THE diocese of Leeds has apologised after a former church organist was sentenced to eight years for historic offences of sexually abusing a boy in his choir.
The statement came after a trial in which a jury was told that the vicar at the time, the Revd Raymond Ward, covered up the assaults, even making threats against the boy’s mother when she first reported them.
Leeds Crown Court heard that Kenneth Endersby, now 84, the organist and choirmaster at St Stephen’s, Kirkstall, first targeted his victim in 1966 when he was 11, and, although the physical abuse ended in 1970, when the boy’s mother told Mr Ward, he continued to pester the boy.
The prosecuting counsel, Richard Gioserano, said: “The vicar accused the boy of being a filthy liar, whereas the defendant was an upstanding member of the community,” the Yorkshire Evening Post reported. “When his mum hinted that she might take things further, the vicar said that there were plenty of God-fearing church folk around, and things could get very difficult for the family.”
Mr Endersby remained a prominent figure at the church, even after he was forced to resign as a magistrate in 1995, when he was convicted of sexually assaulting an undercover policeman in a public lavatory. He was not suspended from his church duties until October 2013, when the victim finally went to police.
Mr Ward continued at St Stephen’s until 1976. He retired in 2005, and has since died.
The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that, when sentencing Endersby, the Recorder of Leeds, Dafydd Enoch, said: “It is a great shame that you were not exposed as a sex abuser in 1970. But it was the church that came to your protection, and you got your friend, the Revd Raymond Ward, to shut down the allegation.
“Raymond Ward bears a great deal of responsibility for the victim’s subsequent inability to have closure on this. For him to speak about the boy like that was unforgivable, as was his failure to co-operate in the allegations against you.
“You hid behind the Christian Church to commit your crimes, and you hid behind it when you were caught out. What a disgrace to the Christian Church. You are not a Christian. A true Christian does not abuse little boys.”
A spokesman for the diocese of Leeds said: “While these events happened over 40 years ago, we know the impact on survivors is life-long, and we are profoundly sorry for the harm Kenneth Endersby caused. We were also very sorry to hear in court that [the boy’s] trauma was compounded by the response of the vicar at the time.
“The Church of England has implemented stringent safeguarding procedures — including the training of clergy and lay people — which it continues to assess, and it always takes very seriously any allegations of inappropriate behaviour and abuse, which are immediately reported to the police.”