Lord George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, offered "compassion" to a bishop who preyed on teenagers, but not to his victims, according to a scathing report into the sexual abuse of children in the Church of England.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) accused the church of “putting its own reputation above the needs of victims”.
It found that Peter Ball abused his position as Bishop of Gloucester to prey on vulnerable teenagers and young men for sexual gratification - talking them into naked praying, masturbation and flagellation.
Lord Carey, offered “compassion” to Ball, but not to his victims, it said, adding that he displayed “overt support” for the disgraced clergyman despite there being no justification for doing so.
The 83-year-old who was archbishop between 1991 and 2002 “frequently seemed to do the wrong thing” during investigations into Ball, it said.
The support given to Ball by Prince Charles was also “misguided”, the inquiry found.
It said the royal's actions "in speaking about Ball with the [then] Archbishop of Canterbury [Lord Carey] and a member of Lambeth Palace, and the Duchy of Cornwall buying a property to rent to Ball and his brother – were misguided."
It added: “His actions, and those of his staff, could have been interpreted as expressions of support for Peter Ball and, given the Prince of Wales’ future role within the Church of England, had the potential to influence the actions of the Church.”
A spokesman for the Prince of Wales said it “remains a matter of deep regret” that he and others were “deceived” by him.
“As he made clear in his voluntary witness statement to the inquiry, at no time did he bring any influence to bear on the actions of the Church or any other relevant authority," he added. "His thoughts remain with victims of the abuse suffered over many years.”
The report focused on evidence against Ball and the Diocese of Chichester – the diocese which received the most reports of child sexual abuse, with 18 convictions over 50 years.
It found “clericalism and tribalism” pervaded the church which led it to offer offenders protection and secrecy.
One of Ball’s victims, Neil Todd, killed himself aged 38 after being “seriously failed” by the Church, which “discounted Ball’s conduct as trivial and insignificant” while displaying “callous indifference” to Mr Todd’s complaints, the report stated.
Ball, now in his late 80s, accepted a caution for one count of gross indecency in 1993 and resigned due to ill-health. It was not until 22 years later that he finally admitted his crimes and was jailed for sexually abusing 18 young men over a 30 year period.
Prince Charles, who will be supreme governor of the Church of England when he becomes king, told the inquiry in a written statement that he “at no stage [sought] to influence the outcome” of any police investigation into Ball.
In a series of letters between the prince and Ball, Prince Charles said he wished he could “do more” for him.
In another, he wrote: “I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated.”
The Prince of Wales also wrote in support of finding a Duchy property for Ball and his brother to rent. He told him: “I long to see you both settled somewhere that suits you and gives you peace and tranquillity.”
Richard Scorer, a lawyer at Slater and Gordon who acts for a number of victims, said: “We may never know the true harm caused by Charles’ intervention and support for Ball, but welcome the fact that the inquiry did not shy away from highlighting his role in this scandal.
“This report is a damning indictment of years of church cover-up, facilitation of child abuse and denigration and dismissal of victims.”
Professor Alexis Jay, inquiry chairman, said: “For years, the Diocese of Chichester failed victims and survivors of child sexual abuse by prioritising its own reputation above their welfare. Not only were disclosures of abuse handled inadequately by the Church when they came to light, its response was marked by secrecy and a disregard for the seriousness of abuse allegations.”
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