Methodist Church apologises for decades of abuse

Investigation uncovered almost 2,000 alleged abusers

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The UK's Methodist Church has issued a public apology after an investigation revealed evidence of decades of abuse.

An independent inquiry uncovered almost 2,000 alleged abusers, of which 914 involved sexual abuse allegations, dating back to 1950.

Of those, ministers or lay employees were involved in 26 per cent of alleged abuses - but this figure rose to 33 per cent when worship leaders and local preachers were included.

One of the cases involved the grooming of teenage girls on Facebook, and another allegedly involved a minister making sexual advances to children.

One case involved a Methodist youth officer who had indecent images of children on his computer.

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The three-year investigation was commissioned by the Church itself, and looked at its response to complaints and allegations, the BBC reported.

The organisation said it wanted to be "open about the past", and to ensure more stringent safeguarding procedures were put in place in the future.

In total, there were 1,885 cases of alleged sexual, emotional, physical, domestic abuse and neglect. Some of those individual cases involved multiple incidences of abuse, the report said.

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, the Church's general secretary, said the revelations were "a deep source of grief and shame to the Church" and said he wanted to express an "unreserved apology for the failure of its current and earlier processes fully to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by some ministers".

"The abuse that has been inflicted by some Methodists on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame to the Church," he added.

One of the abuse survivors told the survey: "My Church did not want a scandal, my parents did not want a scandal.

"I was left to feel worthless and devalued, while the man was left to get on with his life and for all I know repeat the crime with someone else. I was emotionally and physically devastated."

Another said: "I don't want other girls to suffer like I have."

The Church is expected to also make a public apology at its annual conference in June.