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Dr Warner apologises to abuse survivor

26 April 2013

A SURVIVOR of child abuse perpetrated by a priest in the diocese of Chichester has welcomed a letter of apology from the diocesan Bishop, Dr Martin Warner, as "a clear signal that he's trying to sweep in a change".

Gary Johnson and his older brother, from Eastbourne, were abused by Roy Cotton, a former Rector of Brede with Udimore, near Rye, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Dr Warner met Mr Johnson earlier this month, and sent him a private letter the day after. It was "a genuine statement of apology" that "comes from me personally", Dr Warner said, "but also from me as the person who bears responsibility for representing the diocese of Chichester as its Bishop. I am deeply ashamed of the way that you have been treated by us."

Mr Johnson told BBC South East this week: "I've been validated, and I've been met at a level where I don't feel like a victim or a survivor. I feel like I'm a party worth talking to."

He said that Dr Warner "needs to be applauded" for his efforts to engage with survivors of abuse: "I think his choice of diction in the letter is very carefully put to send a clear signal that he's trying to sweep in a change, and really put the deception and cover-up behind the Church that he now represents."

Diocese to pay compensation.

On Tuesday, the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, agreed that the diocese would pay compensation of £200,000 to a former choirboy who suffered years of abuse in the 1970s by a priest on the Isle of Wight, The award follows the imprisonment of the Revd Max Halahan, a retired priest, two years ago. Mr Halahan was Vicar of St Faith's, Cowes, from 1970 to 1977.

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