- Dr Rowan Williams said a string of court cases was just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of corruption
- Comes after one vicar was jailed for five years for sexually abusing two boys
- Another parish priest died without being charged with any offence after abusing at least ten boys
The Daily Mail – MailOnline (UK)
PUBLISHED: 19:56 GMT, 30 August 2012 | UPDATED: 23:58 GMT, 30 August 2012
By Steve Doughty
A Church of England report yesterday accused clergy in an ancient diocese of a ‘disastrous’ failure to protect children from abuse by paedophile priests.
The investigation carried out for the Archbishop of Canterbury said that many lives had been blighted, and a string of court cases was just the tip of the iceberg of corruption in the Diocese of Chichester.
It followed deepening concerns after one vicar was jailed for five years for sexually abusing two boys and another parish priest died without being charged with any offence after abusing at least ten boys.
Three retired priests in the diocese are facing charges of sexual offences against children.
The interim report comes more than a year after an initial inquiry by retired judge Baroness Butler-Sloss and has itself taken eight months to produce.
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams apologised to victims. ‘The abiding hurt and damage done to them is something that none of us in the Church can ignore,’ he said.
‘We owe them not only our words of apology but our best efforts to make sure that in the future our churches will be safe.
‘The interim report confirms there have been many and longstanding failures in implementing a robust and credible safeguarding policy in the Diocese of Chichester.’
The report by retired Bishop of Chelmsford the Right Reverend John Gladwin said: ‘It is clear to us that many lives have been blighted.
Concerned: A vicar was jailed for five years for sexually abusing two boys and a parish priest died without being charged with any offence after abusing at least 10 boys
‘Some have sought justice through the courts of law. Clergy have gone to prison for their abuse of children.
‘We are clear that those who have sought justice through the courts are but the tip of the iceberg.’
‘Many lives blighted’: The report by Right Reverend John Gladwin shows justice through the courts is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’
The damage was made worse by the slow progress of inquiries, it said.
The two priests known to have abused children were the Reverend Colin Pritchard, vicar of St Barnabas in Bexhill-on-Sea until 2007, who was subsequently jailed for abusing two boys.
Pritchard was allowed to continue running his parish for ten years after he was first reported to police for sex offences.
The Reverend Roy Cotton, a parish priest in Brede, near Rye, died in September 2006 after prosecutors had decided there was too little evidence to charge him.
Three retired priests from the diocese have been charged with sexual offences this year.
They were named by the BBC as Canon Gordon Rideout, 73, of Wannock, East Sussex; the Reverend Robert Coles, 71, of Eastbourne; and Father Wilkie Denford, 77, of Shoreham, West Sussex.
The first two face multiple charges dating from the 1960s to 1984. The last has denied four charges of indecently assaulting a boy under 16 in the late 1980s.
Bishop Gladwin called the 1,000-year-old diocese ‘dysfunctional’.