Senior figures in the Church of England ignored the “sadistic” assault of a 15-year-old boy by a leading London vicar for 40 years, a new report has revealed.
The Church has said it will introduce a raft of changes in the way it handles sex abuse allegations against its clergy after the “deeply uncomfortable” independent report revealed the abuse of a teenage boy at the hands of Garth Moore in 1976.
Moore, who died in 1990, was a leading figure in the Church at the time and later became the chancellor of three dioceses and vicar of St Mary’s Abchurch in the City of London.
It has emerged the victim, identified as Survivor B, had disclosed "a tragic catalogue of exploitation and harm" to figures both inside and outside the Church over the years - but no firm action was taken.
Survivor B said when he told Michael Fisher - the leader of the Society of St Francis and suffragan bishop of St Germans in Cornwall who died in 2003 - he initiated an intense romantic friendship with the then 18-year-old which involved kissing but no penetrative sex.
He told the Guardian: “This was not the right response to a young man who was seeking help.
“[It] added another layer to the complexity of abuse. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that this charismatic figure was abusing me spiritually and emotionally.”
“It’s astonishing to me, looking back, to realise I told so many senior C of E priests and bishops. None came back and said: we need to help you get properly heard and you need a sense of real justice happening.
“No one ever came back to me. There was casual and systemic inertia all the way through. These were not bad people themselves – they were people working in a profoundly dysfunctional structure.”
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He said a serving bishop wrote a “heartfelt apology” letter to him last month saying his “not remembering set against your clear recollection may reinforce the perception of inaction that continues the hurt for you, and for other survivors. I am genuinely also sorry for this”.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Church said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had pledged to ensure the review’s 11 recommendations were acted on as soon as possible.
They will include the need for training to be provided for those who deal with allegations and tell them how to record what information has been shared with them and explain what action has been been taken.
The Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally, said the abuse suffered by Survivor B had “cleared devastated his life”.
She said: "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."
Additional reporting by PAReuse content