Within the past couple of days, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in the Church of England has issued a report about allegations that Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Chichester, actively engaged in the sexual abuse of at least 18 young men during his tenure from 1977 to 2002. From the BBC:
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.
The Guardian reports that Prince Charles and George Carey, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991-2002, were among Ball’s protectors:
[The report] also found that Prince Charles and other members of the establishment were misguided in their expressions of support of Peter Ball as he battled the accusations.
…The prince and his private secretary spoke about Ball with the archbishop of Canterbury and arranged for the Duchy of Cornwall to buy a property to be rented by Ball after he resigned as a bishop.
The prince had been “misguided”, and his actions “could have been interpreted as expressions of support for Peter Ball and, given the Prince of Wales’s future role within the Church of England, had the potential to influence the actions of the church”, the report said.
It said Carey showed compassion to Ball that was not extended to the bishop’s victims, and displayed overt support for Ball’s innocence despite having no justification. Carey was archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002.
… In his statement, the prince said he had been deceived about the true nature of Ball’s activities, but denied he had sought to influence the outcome of police investigations.
He wrote to Ball in February 1995, saying: “I wish I could do more. I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated.”
On this side of the Atlantic, the New York Times also has a somewhat lengthy article on the matter. In describing the actions of Prince Charles, the article notes that,
In an unusually tough rebuke of the future king, the inquiry concluded that “the actions of the Prince of Wales were misguided.”
“He should have recognized the potential effect that his apparent support for Peter Ball could have had upon decision-making within Lambeth Palace,” the headquarters of the Anglican Church, concluded the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse, which was led by a professor of social work, Alexis Jay.
The prince has expressed “deep personal regret” that he had been deceived by Mr. Ball, and said he was not aware that any abuse had taken place.
“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,” a spokesman for Clarence House, the prince’s administration, told the Press Association.
… The report quotes correspondence suggesting that, after Mr. Ball was forced to step down as bishop of Gloucester, [Prince Charles] lobbied for him to be returned to the ministry.
“I wish I could do more,” the prince wrote at one point. “I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated. It’s appalling that the archbishop has gone back on what he told me, before Xmas, that he was hoping to restore you to some kind of ministry in the church. I suspect you are absolutely right — it is due to fear of the media.”
When questioned as part of the inquiry, the prince played down the significance of their correspondence, saying he answered Mr. Ball’s letters, “believing it the polite thing to do.”
The Times article also offers some detail on the lack of an adequate response from then-Archbishop Carey.
Lord Carey, the former archbishop, has since said that he and other church officials underplayed Mr. Ball’s conduct because it did not involve penetration.
“I think all of us at the time were saying, ‘Well, he wasn’t raping anybody, there was no penetrative sex,’” he said.
He acknowledged that he attached more importance to Mr. Ball’s testimony than Mr. [Neil] Todd’s [one Ball’s victims].
“I actually believed him for quite a time, because who else were complaining about him? I didn’t know these people,” he told the inquiry.
The full, 264-page IICSA report on Ball, and the Diocese of Chichester, is available here. In addition to ecclesiastical penalties for clergy who fail to complete Safeguarding training or to fulfill their responsibilities as mandated reporters, among the report’s recommendations are:
The Church of England should amend the current canon requiring clerics to comply with the Bishop’s Guidance on Safeguarding. The use of the words ‘due regard’ in Canon C30 is an acceptable term of art, but lacks sufficient clarity. Very few individuals who gave evidence to the Inquiry said they understood what this meant, including the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.
… The government should amend Section 21 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 so as to include clergy within the definition of a position of trust. This would criminalise under s16–s20 sexual activity between clergy and a person aged 16–18, over whom they exercise pastoral authority, involving the abuse of a position of trust.