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Survivor reaches settlement with diocese on historic abuse

04 December 2015



Accused: Gray's Inn, in central London, where the alleged attempted rape took place

Accused: Gray's Inn, in central London, where the alleged attempted rape took place

A SURVIVOR of clerical sexual abuse has announced this week that he has reached a settlement with the diocese of London.

The survivor, who has asked to remain anonymous, has named his abuser as the Revd Garth Moore, a former Chancellor of the dioceses of Southwark, Durham, and Gloucester, who died in 1990. The survivor wrote in the Church Times earlier this year (Comment, 17 April) of his struggle to have his case heard.

Under the settlement, the diocese has agreed to commission an independent case review to examine how the Church handled the case, which was first reported in the 1980s. It has also paid the survivor the sum of £35,000.

A Church of England spokeswoman said on Tuesday: "We offer an unreserved apology; abuse is a devastating betrayal of trust that should never be allowed to happen, particularly in the Church.

"We can confirm that we have reached a settlement with the survivor and the abuse reported is a matter of deep shame and regret. In reaching this settlement we acknowledge his courage and tenacity in reporting the abuse and ensuring action from the Church.

"We have launched an independently led review of lessons learnt from this case, and when completed it will be shared with the survivor, and the findings published. We continue to be committed to making the Church a safer place for all, while acknowledging that, for survivors, the effects of abuse are lifelong."

A spokesperson for the diocese of London said: "We very much regret the suffering caused to the survivor and pay tribute to the courage he has shown. We take the issue of safeguarding extremely seriously. We have been working with the Church of England nationally and the appropriate authorities to seek a resolution to this case and a settlement has been reached.

"The survivor continues to receive support from the Diocesan safeguarding team in accordance with our safeguarding policy and we are fully engaged with the independent review of this case that is being conducted."

The survivor, who is now 55, was 16 years old when the abuse happened. He was an occasional server at St Mary Abchurch in the City of London, where Chancellor Moore was Vicar from 1972, and Priest-in-Charge from 1980, until his retirement in 1987. It was while he was a house guest with Chancellor Moore in Gray’s Inn that the attempted rape took place.

Chancellor Moore was a barrister of Gray’s Inn, and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, before his appointment as Chancellor of Southwark in 1948. He was appointed as Chancellor of Durham in 1954 and of Gloucester in 1957. He was ordained in 1962 at the age of 56. A highly respected authority on canon law, he was a founding father of the Ecclesiastical Law Society.

He is the second deceased senior Church of England figure to be accused of sexual abuse in recent weeks. In October, the diocese of Chichester announced that it had made a payment in acknowledgement of a poor investigation into an accusation against Bishop George Bell, who died in 1958 (News, 30 October; Letter, 13 November).

One difference in the London case is that the survivor has been able to produce a series of witnesses who recalled hearing his story down the years, including a priest who tried to broker a deathbed meeting at the request of Chancellor Moore.

The survivor said last week that he knew he could not offer the forgiveness being asked for. "I know that he tried to ask for forgiveness in his last 48 hours. I could not go. I had enough memory of what he did. And did not want to risk him dying in front of me, which would have been likely. That would have been too much memory to live with."

Now, however, he says he plans to plant white bulbs at Chancellor Moore’s grave, once the case review is over, "as a sign of release. I want to move on from the hold he had over me 40 years ago."

On the other hand, other senior figures, including two bishops, have said that they do not recall hearing the survivor’s story. This, the survivor says, has contributed to his conviction that the church hierarchy has long been engaged in a cover-up.

He recounts that he has had to go to "astonishing lengths" to be taken seriously. He reports writing 18 letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury "before finally getting a reply from a correspondence secretary assuring him that the Archbishop would hold him in his prayers. . .

"It’s not good enough, really. Bishops won’t wake up until they see their own culture through appalled eyes. To say that the response to key issues was underwhelming would be an understatement. Critical questions were blanked and ignored, despite being raised dozens of times. At times it felt like something out of Kafka."

Even when it came to a settlement, the survivor talks of "offensive horse-trading . . . totally unworthy of the abuse I experienced, the cover-ups I’ve lived with, and four decades of profound lasting impact". It had been argued that the diocese’s liability was reduced because Chancellor Moore had not been acting in his capacity as priest during the attempted rape; and also that the patronage of the church where he was Vicar belonged to a Cambridge college.

Despite this, the survivor says, the Church had to concede that the weight of evidence was "overwhelming". And he praised the work of Sheryl Kent, the London diocese’s safeguarding adviser.

In contrast, he says he has been offered a personal apology from the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, who chairs the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, and has been the Church’s lead bishop for safeguarding since 2011.

Bishop Butler was this week unavailable for comment.

David Greenwood, a solicitor at the Switalskis law firm, who acted for the survivor, has spoken of the length of the process. "I am seeing this happen too often. The Church of England wants to bury and discourage allegations of non-recent abuse. They know how difficult it is for survivors to come forward, and it appears from this case that the Church has a plan of making it hard for these vulnerable people to come forward.

"This survivor has had the courage to press his case. Most do not. Most harbour the psychological fallout in silence. We need to find a way to make the system more approachable for survivors."

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