May 9 2019 – “IICSA publishes report on Chichester and Peter Ball” [and Terence Banks and Bishop George Bell] – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

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Chichester Cathedral [from George Bell House, 4 Canon Lane]

IICSA publishes report on Chichester and Peter Ball

IICSA publishes report on Chichester and Peter Ball

IICSA has published its report on the Chichester diocese and Peter Ball investigations.

Full Text of Report: Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report

Executive Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

Press release: Inquiry publishes report into the Diocese of Chichester and Peter Ball

The Church of England has published this: Publication of IICSA report into Anglican Church 

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, has today published its report into the Anglican Church  based on its case studies last year of the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against the former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball.

The 252-page report makes 5 recommendations about a range of issues. These will now be studied in detail and a full response released at a later date. The Inquiry’s third and final hearing in the  Anglican church case study  will start on Monday 1 July 2019 and run for two weeks. This will focus on both the Church of England and the Church in Wales in the context of their responses to allegations of child sexual abuse. The Inquiry notes that further recommendations directly relating to the findings in this report will be made following the hearing in July.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead bishop for safeguarding, said:

“We thank the Inquiry for the report and note the findings and recommendations which we will now study in full. The report states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors and the Inquiry’s summary recognises that it failed to do this.  It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report.

“Whilst the report acknowledges the progress the Church has made in safeguarding, we recognise that our work must continue at pace in order that we can ensure that the Church is as safe as possible for all. We are committed to working to bring in specific changes that will help us better protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual and all other forms of abuse. If anyone is affected by today’s report I would urge them to come forward. Details of how to do this can be found on the Church of England website.

“We are  immensely  grateful to survivors for their courage in coming forward to IICSA to share their experiences of how they were treated by the Church, knowing how difficult this would have been; their testimonies have made shocking and uncomfortable listening. Since the Archbishop of Canterbury asked for the Church of England to be investigated by IICSA as a matter of priority, we have sought to help the Inquiry  in every way that  we can  and  we will now fully consider the report.”

COMMENT BY RICHARD W. SYMONDS

Initial reflections regarding the IICSA Report – as they relate to the Chichester Diocese and the Bishop Bell case:

Para. 434. “In 1995, some 37 years after Bishop Bell’s death, a letter was sent to his [Bell’s] successor as Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp. The author of the letter is known by the pseudonym ‘Carol’. Carol alleged that when she was aged between five and eight years, she was sexually abused by Bishop Bell. The abuse occurred every few months during visits to the Bishop’s Palace in Chichester. It included digital penetration, forced masturbation and attempted rape. The [IICSA] Inquiry cannot determine the truth or otherwise of these allegations”

Nobody can determine the truth or otherwise of these allegations by ‘Carol’, but if the ‘exclusive’ in the Brighton Argus [giving a detailed analysis of Carol’s abuse] – and the detailed analysis of her allegations by the George Bell Group – are accurate, her account simply doesn’t add up.

Para. 454. “It seems to be acknowledged by all that the process was significantly flawed, particularly in its failure to establish at the outset who should be responsible for managing the civil claim. In its response to the Carlile review, the [Chichester] Diocese suggested this should be a separate ‘litigation group’ which should consider whether the claim was proven on the balance of probabilities. We [the IICSA Inquiry] agree that this would be a sensible course of action”

A “litigation group” is a very good suggestion by the Chichester Diocese, and it would be a very sensible course of action.

But has the suggestion been followed by action? No.

Para. 460. “In a document produced to the Synod by the National Safeguarding Steering Group in June 2018, the Church itself recognised that there may need to be independent investigation of complaints against senior clergy. This would include posthumous allegations [eg Bishop Bell – Ed]. The Church is to undertake a scoping exercise, during which it will consider the appointment of an independent ombudsman to deal with complaints about safeguarding management. Both of these issues require serious consideration. They may present a practical solution to the concerns raised in the Carlile review” (eg regarding Bishop Bell – Ed].

A “scoping exercise” (?) by the Church and an “independent ombudsman” are very good practical solutions to the serious problems.

But isn’t this too little, too late? These solutions to such problems should have taken place at least four years ago.

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