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Retired bishop pleads guilty to indecent assault

Retired bishop pleads guilty to indecent assault

The Church of England website carries this statement from the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, lead bishop on safeguarding:

Following a hearing at the Central Criminal Court today Bishop Peter Ball has pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office.

We offer an unreserved apology to all the survivors and those affected by this news. We commend the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward, acknowledging how difficult and distressing this would have been.

We are aware that two individuals will not have the opportunity to have their case heard in criminal court following the plea agreement.

Peter Ball was charged with the offences following his arrest in November 2012 and as a Church we have provided full co-operation with the police throughout their investigation.

The Church of England always takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. To this end we have robust procedures and policies in place. But we can never be complacent. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.

Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.

The statement links to the local Sussex police report, which gives some further details:

Following an investigation by Sussex Police, a retired Church of England Bishop, Peter Ball, has been convicted of a series of offences over 15 years against 18 young men known to him.

At a plea and case management hearing at the Old Bailey on Tuesday (8 September), 83-year old Ball, of Aller, Langport, Somerset, pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office, relating to manipulative behaviour, including several specific sexual offences, against 16 young men in their late teens or early twenties, mainly at an address where he then lived in Litlington, East Sussex, between 1977 and 1992, while he was Bishop of Lewes.

He also pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault on two boys in their late teens at Litlington, one in the late 1980’s and one in the early 1980’s.

On 8 September Ball also pleaded not guilty to indecent assaults on two other teenage boys, one in Eastbourne in the late 1970’s and one in Litlington in the early 1980’s. The CPS decided not to proceed with these charges and the court ordered that they should lay on the court file.

Sentencing will take place on October 7th.

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