Thinking Anglicans

Church of England publishes part of Elliott report into sexual abuse case

Updated again Wednesday morning

The Church of England has today published portions of the report that was commissioned in September 2015 into a particular case of alleged sexual abuse by a member of the clergy.

The materials published by the church do not disclose the names of any of the persons involved. However, the Guardian newspaper carries a report by Harriet Sherwood which names the perpetrator and states that the Guardian has seen the full report. The Guardian has also interviewed the survivor in this case.

The Church Times has also seen the full report, see below.

…Elliott examined the case of “Joe” – described in the report as “B”, and whose identity is known to the Guardian – who as a 15-year-old was subjected to a “sadistic” assault in 1976 by Garth Moore, a leading figure in the church, the chancellor of three dioceses and vicar of St Mary’s Abchurch in the City of London. Moore, who died in 1990, is described in the report as “A”…

  • And a later write-through of the story for the front page of the Wednesday morning paper edition names the bishops concerned:

…The Guardian understands that among those told of the abuse were three bishops and a senior clergyman later ordained as a bishop. None of them are named in the report by Ian Elliott, a safeguarding expert, but the survivor identified them as Tim Thornton, now bishop of Truro; Richard Holloway, former bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal church, now retired; John Eastaugh, former bishop of Hereford, now dead; and Stephen Platten, former bishop of Wakefield and now honorary assistant bishop of London…

…In a statement, Thornton said: “I remember having several conversations with [Joe], mainly about his faith. But I am sorry to say that I simply do not recall the conversation that he has referred to. Had I been party to a conversation of that nature, I would either have referred him to somebody who would have been well placed to help him, or would have told somebody myself about such a serious disclosure.”
A statement from the diocese of London said Platten had apologised to Joe for his “lack of detailed recollection of their conversations in the 1980s” and “regretted he was unable to help further”.
Holloway said he did not recall any disclosure: “I have no memory of it, but I’ve no reason to challenge it. I had many pastoral conversations with many people…”

…Last month, Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham, who leads the C of E’s safeguarding work, privately apologised to Joe for the church’s response to his disclosures. He said he had no doubt that Joe had been abused by Moore, and there were likely to be other survivors who have not yet come forward. He ended his handwritten letter, seen by the Guardian, with: “I am … deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused you.”

But there has been no apology from Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, to whom Joe reports writing 18 letters after the church began examining his case. He had one reply, from a correspondence secretary, assuring him that “the archbishop would hold him in his prayers”…

Links to the officially published material:

Report by Tim Wyatt in the Church Times Abuse case turns spotlight on to flawed C of E safeguarding practices

…The report will not be published in full, although the conclusions and recommendations will be published by the C of E. Bishop Mullally said that this was because of pastoral concerns, although Joe has told the Church Times that wants the detail of the review to be made public…

…Joe said he was optimistic that the report would lead to real reform, but still had reservations. He had asked for a female bishop to lead the implementation of the recommendations because he had wanted a new broom to sweep the Church clean.

“I wanted someone to look at this with fresh eyes,” he said. “It needed to be somebody who wasn’t part of the layers of complicity and loyalty, who didn’t carry all that baggage.”

Although he has not yet met Bishop Mullally, he said he had heard positive things about her. “I have the sense that she could kick the Church out of its complacency…”

Earlier material from the Church Times

Earlier material from the Guardian

Other media reports:

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James ByronFr AndrewSusannah ClarkInterested ObserverRichard Ashby Recent comment authors
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Kate Odling
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Kate Odling

It would be very good to examine all these allegations thoroughly. Any apology should come from Archbishop Welby or it would have little value. Everyone can think of these tragedies in their prayers. I think the Church needs to confront the past so that it can remain important in the future.

James Byron
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James Byron

“Many listened sympathetically; some offered absolution. But none took action or advised Joe to do so.” And that willful blindness is the heart of the issue. See no evil, hear no evil. It beggars belief that so many morally bankrupt people have found their way into the church hierarchy, but they have. These evil men were never called by God; the idea that they were has enabled them. This goes far beyond safeguarding reform, essential as that is: the whole idea of ordained priesthood, based on the assertion of the wannabe priest, assessed by flawed people, needs to be reexamined.… Read more »

Fr William
Guest

Archbishop Anthony Bloom of blessed memory said “Intercession means an involvement that may spell death, and I am frightened when I hear a congregation of people intercede for one need after the other … just for the time Evensong lasts.” We pray for victims, so job done. “Holding in prayer” is one of those churchy phrases that is, I fear, risible to those who are not members of the club, and to many of those who are – self included. It generates a picture in my mind’s eye of John Barron as the pompous dean of St Ogg’s. Another pet… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

James, I agree with your sentiment that it shows some priests (and presumably bishops though you shy from that deduction) were not called by God. I will spend time thinking on your solution – it has appeal (I have certain reservations with the idea of secondary ministry) but there are some practical downsides too.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“These evil men were never called by God; the idea that they were has enabled them. This goes far beyond safeguarding reform, essential as that is: the whole idea of ordained priesthood, based on the assertion of the wannabe priest, assessed by flawed people, needs to be reexamined.” – James Byron – The reality James – as here so dramtically seen – is that no-one is immune to the propensity for sin and violence; not even Leaders in the Church. One only has to look at the life of King David, newly portrayed in a current version of his life… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

An alternative to redefining the priesthood (something that, I recogize, would provoke furious resistance from the rump of Anglo-Catholicism) would be reintroducing laicization. Unbelievably, England abolished the penalty of unfrocking over a decade back. As canon law stands, a child molester and his accomplices stay priests and bishops until their dying day. Beyond that, the disciplinary process needs to be separated from the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Bishops are charged with disciplining the very priests they’ve colluded with. The conflict of interest is just too great. Frequently, clergy defend clergy come what may. The blue wall of silence has nothing on these… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“What’s needed is an Anglican juge d’instruction. A qualified lawyer wholly separate from the priesthood, answerable to no bishop, with sweeping powers to tear apart the lives of priests and bishops in search of the truth” One might say that this is the role of the police, social services and the CPS. And had the CofE reported what were prima facie crimes to the authorities,, they might have acted. Instead, by concealing the events, any hope of finding the truth is lost. For so long as the Anglican Church thinks of itself as being one of the authorities, whose pastoral… Read more »

Pam
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Pam

I’ve just read the survivor’s own testimony “Carried on the Sea of Forgetting”. A very courageous and moving story. The sexual abuse issue facing the Church must be met with truth, justice and healing. This is the single most important thing leaders of every denomination have to do: listen and do everything in your power to help.

primroseleague
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primroseleague

James Byron,

“sweeping powers to tear apart the lives of priests and bishops….no one expects the Anglican inquisition, but….”

On whose say so? One plaintiff? Two?

what structures are you putting in place for these lives to be rebuilt by the legal establishment if found that, like certain high profile police investigations, they’ve gone off on half cock?

somewhere in your fury it’s difficult not to see
“better to kill 10 innocent men, than let one guilty man go free”
struggling to get out

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

At least this case won’t lead to the kind of George Bell fan club correspondence. But arguably worse, according to the Guardian report, the victim was invited to visit the abuser on his death bed in 1990. It is unconscionable that it has taken 26 years for the Church to act. People on their death bed do not pick up the phone. How could it possibly be that in the light of incontrovertible evidence (the penitence of the abuser) absolutely nothing was done to support the victim by those (there must have been a number) who were intimately involved at… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“The sexual abuse issue facing the Church must be met with truth, justice and healing.” The church and its clerics should face truth and justice. The survivors deserver truth, justice and healing. I am not interested in providing healing for the perpetrators and those that enabled and concealed them: the festering filth that is their conscience is theirs to deal with. For too long the narrative of child abuse in churches is to worry away at the non-question of why the perpetrators do it. The responsibility first and foremost of the church is to stop the perpetrators to stop there… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Interested Observer, of course the authorities should be informed if at all possible, but there’ll be plenty cases dropped for lack of evidence, or never started because the complainant doesn’t wish to come forward, or has died. Even when a priest’s tried and convicted, there needs to be an investigation of accessories whose conduct may not be criminal, but who should be stripped of their vestments and cast out. Primroseleague, you can find me vigorously defending the presumption of innocence on here. I take none of it back: a judicial investigation (launched after a detailed, credible accusation) isn’t a presumption… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

£35,000 seems a paltry sum of money to compensate someone for “sadistic” abuse and decades of denial by the Church.
———————————————–
“I am … deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused you.” Paul Butler

I’m no fan of Paul Butler but well done for ‘owning’ this apology and not writing it in the passive voice.

Eric MacDonald
Guest

It is not my intention in what follows to diminish one whit the terrible suffering that abused children experience, suffering that, for some of them, simply makes it impossible for them to succeed at life. So, please put that aside for now. But I think of some of the clergy I have known who were guilty of sexual abuse of minors. It was obvious that some of them were themselves immature, sexually, certainly, but in other respects as well, mainly because they had no legitimate way of expressing their sexuality as they grew up. Many of them grew up in… Read more »

Pam
Guest
Pam

I agree with your sentiments Interested Observer. My empathy is with survivors and the hierarchy of the Church has much to answer for. The question of why perpetrators acted (act) they way they did (do) is important though. The cleansing of the temple demands it.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Responding to James Byron’s post above, the March 3rd issue of the Tablet has an interesting article about abuse and the response to it in the Roman Catholic Church and in particular notes that the idea of the priesthood as a ‘cast apart’ is rooted in Catholic theology. Clericalism may be a distortion of this theology but it pervades the Church of England as much as the Church of Rome. The idea that ‘father knows best’ is ingrained even in the wings of the Church which would vehemently deny that they share any aspect of the idea of the minister… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Fantastic post by Eric MacDonald. Thank you, Eric. Pam and Richard’s comments following, also lock into a similar issue: that the way the Church itself is framed, may contribute to the circumstances where people find themselves repressed, hemmed in, with their hidden sexuality suppressed (even from themselves). Human sexual nature has a wild, bestial and evolutionary force which, if repressed, may break loose in all kinds of bizarre, uncontrolled, and anarchic eruptions of the subconscious. Having run a sex offenders’ centre I have seen this time and again. Otherwise good and decent lives, wrecked by sexual repression and its bizarre… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

In my former profession, and in many others, the phrase “regulator capture” arises. A regulator is set up to represent the interests of the consumer, be it of utilities, transport, financial products, whatever. That regulator has the best intentions, but the bodies they are supposedly regulating immediately establish a regulatory liaison group whose job it is to manage the relationship with the regulator. Indeed, sometimes the industry gets together to form a trade body with a regulatory liaison group, so that the industry can speak with one single focused voice. They have good people, resources and strong focus, and can… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I love that concept, Interested Observer. It’s really fascinating. Perhaps accounts for why bank regulation has sometimes seemed so toothless, or why Press Complaints bodies can seem almost in collusion with the people they are regulating. I saw it in Internet governance as well, with ICANN. You also sometimes suspect that politicians when they come to power get ‘captured’ – presidents in the US, British politicians and their mandarins. In neoliberalism, we live in a ‘laissez faire’ universe. The Establishment must be protected, and should be left to get on with its own governance. ‘Looking after your own’ seems to… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“I can think of one class of homosexual who might, almost by instinct, betray their most solemn oaths, and these are clergy” I think I have to challenge Eric MacDonald on this; despite his attempt to disassociate what he has said from the ‘homosexual = paedophile’ equation, I would suggest it’s just feeding into a classic homophobic agenda. I think I’d want some better evidence than mere supposition- studies by academics, trials perhaps? Please can you provide me with the references? Is there a definite link between repressed *homosexuality* and paedophilia? I think I’d want to be absolutely certain before… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“Personally I believe there’s one step that should always be taken when sexual abuse may have occurred: it’s called the police.” I agree, Susannah, but since law enforcement have other priorities, they aren’t a complete solution. They’re usually limited to investigating a specific crime, and even if they launch a wider inquiry, they can only act on conduct that rises to the level of criminality, and only act where they have evidence. Also, they’re in no position to break down networks of secrecy in the church. They’ve plenty other crimes to investigate. If evidence doesn’t emerge, they have to drop… Read more »