THE diocese of London has been accused of “shamefully” trying to shift the blame for safeguarding failures concerning an ordinand who raped two teenagers he got to know as a church youth worker.
The criticism came from Judge Katz QC while sentencing Timothy Storey, 35, a former ordinand who was convicted in February on three charges of rape and one of sexual assault (News, 26 February).
His two victims were under 18 when they were groomed online and then raped. The rapist met his victims while working as a children’s pastor at a church in central London.
Sentencing Mr Storey to 15 years in prison, Judge Katz said that his “insidious” behaviour warranted a further four years on licence after his custodial sentence was completed. But he also strongly criticised the diocese of London. “It seems to me that there was a wholesale failure by those responsible at that time for safeguarding,” Judge Katz said. When the diocese eventually decided to talk to Mr Storey about allegations made against him, it asked someone “clearly unsuited” to the task to confront him.
Furthermore, this official’s superior “arrogantly refused” to give a statement to prosecutors for the trial, and seemed to be most concerned about the diocese’s reputation.
But it was the statement released by the diocese at the conclusion of the trial in February which came in for the greatest criticism.
The statement said that the diocese had investigated the allegations of assault in 2009, and then passed on the information to the Metropolitan Police, who decided that no crime had been committed.
But this was a travesty of what had really happened, Judge Katz said. In fact, the police had investigated Mr Storey “diligently and sensitively, something the diocese had been incapable of”.
The diocese’s statement, which “appeared to suggest that the diocese had acted appropriately at all times”, and implied that the police were to blame, “was a shameful misrepresentation of the truth”, the judge concluded.
A spokeswoman for the diocese said that an independent review of the diocese’s handling of the case had been ordered, and Mr Storey’s victims would be contacted in due course. “We fully acknowledge the comments that have been made by the judge, and we are committed to ensuring that lessons are learned and acted upon,” the spokeswoman said.
“While, since 2010, we have made significant improvements to our safeguarding processes and greatly increased the resources available, we are constantly striving to make our Church safe for everyone. Timothy Storey carried out a series of appalling crimes, and we are profoundly sorry for what his victims endured.”