Sex abuse case review highlights damning Church of England failures

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin WelbyReuters

The Church of England failed to act over "credible" claims of sadistic sexual abuse disclosed repeatedly by a survivor over 40 years.

The Church, of which the Queen is Supreme Governor, is to change way it deals with abuse claims after a damning review published today that dicloses how at least three bishops failed to act after they were told.

The church described the review "embarrassing and uncomfortable".

The office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is criticised for failing to make a meaningful response as the survivor tried repeatedly through 2015 to get some action taken against his abuser.

Referring to the survivor as "B" and the perpetrator as "Rev A", the Church said today: "The reports of abuse that B has made are credible. They contain a tragic catalogue of exploitation and harm. The many attempts made by B to secure help from the Church within which he had grown up, resulted in frustration and failure. This increased his sense of anger at what had happened to him. He felt ignored.

"His loss of faith is another tragic consequence of the experiences that he was subject to. The impact on his health appears to have been significant and continues today. Despite all of this, B retains a desire to see practice in the Church greatly improve. He wants to ensure that others who present in a similar way to himself and who are seeking to be heard, helped, and healed by the Church, will receive a fundamentally different response than he did."

The review was commissioned in September 2015 after B tried once more, successfully this time, to get some attention paid to abuse he suffered several decades ago when he was young. B reported he had disclosed the abuse to a number of different people on separate occasions through the intervening years, both within and outside the Church. On each occasion, B reported that he had not received a response which he felt adequately addressed his needs. B also reported two other allegations of abuse, one by a senior church figure, described as "Brother C".

The Churches Child Protection Advisory Service engaged Ian Elliott, a safeguarding consultant, with whom they have a joint working agreement, to do the review to establish what lessons could be learned. In December the Church of England issued a statement about the review in response to a newspaper interview with the survivor, offering an unreserved apology and confirming that a settlement had been reached with the survivor.

The review concludes: "Survivors of clerical abuse hold great wisdom as to how the Church can prevent what happened to them reoccurring. To that end and where the motivation exists on the part of the survivor, a mechanism should be created that is aimed at creating a means whereby that knowledge can be directly shared with those involved in safeguarding in the Church."

In an interview with the survivor in The Guardian, the abuser is named as the late Garth Moore, chancellor of the dioceses of Southwark, Durham and Gloucester and vicar of St Mary's Abchurch in the City of London. At 15 the survivor became a "server", assisting the vicar, at his church and sometimes stayed overnight at his flat in Gray's Inn. The survivor described how he was groomed. "He played very heavily on the fact of my adoption to undermine trust in my family." He was "slowly detaching me from loyalty to my parents".

When the survivor was 16, the vicar attacked him sadistically and attempted to rape him.

According to The Guardian, the survivor received £35,000 compensation.

The Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally, who received the report at the request of B, said: "I was horrified to hear and read of the abuse suffered by the survivor in this case. It has clearly devastated his life. I apologise profusely for the failings of the Church towards him, and for the horrific abuse he suffered. It has taken him years of heartache and distress to get his story heard and believed by those in authority and it is clear he has been failed in many ways over a long period of time. We should have been swifter to listen, to believe and to act. This report is deeply uncomfortable for the Church of England.

"I know we have made some progress but we still have so much to learn and to do, and we need to do it quickly. I cannot imagine what it costs survivors to come forward, and we owe it to them to act swiftly and compassionately. I am humbled by the fact the survivor in this case has persisted and is still willing to give his time to try and ensure we learn these lessons.

"This report has published a series of important recommendations. The Archbishop of Canterbury has seen these recommendations and will ensure they are implemented as quickly as possible.

"How we respond to those who have survived abuse in any form, whether as a child or an adult, is a measure of our humanity, compassion and of the Church's mission in the world."