The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) has criticised the Church of England’s response to child sex abuse allegations in the Diocese of Chichester in its report ‘Anglican Church Case Studies: the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against Peter Ball’
The report, published on 9 May 2019, described the “appalling sexual abuse against children” in the Diocese of Chichester, with 18 members of the clergy convicted of offences during a 50-year period.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey is criticised in the report for supporting former Bishop Peter Ball. The report also found that the Prince of Wales was “misguided” in his support of Ball who sexually abused “vulnerable teenagers and young men for decades”.
Prince Charles’ actions “could have been interpreted as expressions of support” for Ball and “had the potential to influence the actions of the church”. Ball sought to use his relationship with the Prince to further his campaign to return to unrestricted ministry.
A Clarence House spokesman said it remained “a matter of deep regret” that the prince “along with many others was deceived by Peter Ball over so many years”.
“At no time did he bring any influence to bear on the actions of the church or any other relevant authority,” he added.
Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s safeguarding lead, said: “We are immensely grateful to survivors for their courage in coming forward. Their testimonies have made shocking and uncomfortable listening.
“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.”
Ball, who was Bishop of Lewes in East Sussex between 1977 and 1992 and Bishop of Gloucester in 1992, was jailed in 2015 for 32 months for offences against 18 teenagers and men between the 1970s and the 1990s.
The report found the Crown Prosecution Service had missed an opportunity to charge Ball with a string of offences in 1992, and it was not until 22 years later he admitted his crimes.
The report, based on four weeks of public hearings between March and July last year, said victims were “disbelieved and dismissed” by those in authority at the Diocese of Chichester.
One of Ball’s victims, Neil Todd, killed himself after being “seriously failed” by the church, which had “discounted Ball’s conduct as trivial and insignificant” while displaying “callous indifference” to Mr Todd’s complaints.
William Chapman, representing survivors, told the inquiry: “The story of Peter Ball is the story of the establishment at work in modern times.” Ball had been able to call upon the “willing assistance of members of the establishment. It included the heir to the throne, the archbishop and a senior member of the judiciary, to name only the most prominent.”
Lord Carey resigned as honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Oxford – his last formal role in the church – in June last year after a separate inquiry found he delayed a “proper investigation” into Ball’s crimes for two decades.
That report said he “failed to have sufficient regard for the wellbeing of complainants, victims and survivors affected by Peter Ball’s behaviour”.
Click here to read the report in full.
William Chapman represented abuse survivors at the Inquiry.