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Sex abuse survivor Matthew Ineson criticises ‘inaction’ of senior clerics in BBC programme

16 March 2018

GAVIN DRAKE

David Greenwood (right), Matthew Ineson’s lawyer, hands out leaflets about his client’s case to General Synod members outside York Minster, last July

David Greenwood (right), Matthew Ineson’s lawyer, hands out leaflets about his client’s case to General Synod members outside York Minster, last July

A PRIEST who says that he was a teenage victim of sexual assault and rape by another cleric, the late Trevor Devamanikkam, has criticised senior clerics for failing to take action.

The Revd Matthew Ineson, who resigned from his incumbency in 2013 after disclosing his ordeal to several senior Church figures, appeared on the BBC’s Inside Out programme on Monday of last week. He previously protested outside York Minster during the General Synod meeting last year (News, 7 July).

Mr Ineson said that a document released to him by the C of E under the Data Protection Act showed what he has always claimed: that the Church suspected he was not the only victim of Mr Devamanikkam.

In a memo sent to the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, last year by his staff at Bishopthorpe, Mr Ineson is described as “one of the victims” of Mr Devamanikkam, who killed himself in June shortly before he was due to appear in court accused of sexual offences against Mr Ineson (News, 16 June).

Bishopthorpe told the BBC, however, that the reference to more than one victim was “human error”, and that they had never been aware of any other accusations against Mr Devamanikkam.

Dr Sentamu was one of five senior clerics whom, Mr Ineson says, he told about his abuse in 2012 but who took no action.

Now, Mr Ineson has given a long statement to South Yorkshire Police, who are investigating the case.

In a statement, the C of E’s national safeguarding team said that Dr Sentamu had not failed since according to their own policies it was Bishop Croft’s responsibility to deal with Mr Ineson, not Dr Sentamu’s.

A spokesperson for the Bishop of Doncaster, the Rt Revd Peter Burrows, who Mr Ineson says was the first bishop he told about his abuse, did concede that more should have been done: “Matthew’s account of the abuse he suffered as a teenager is harrowing and we regret that the Church did not offer him better protection and support at that time.”

Nevertheless, Mr Ineson remains unsatisfied. He said that Dr Sentamu was “in effect passing the buck and saying ‘not my job’”.

“Is it now the case that clergy, even bishops and archbishops, can ignore disclosures of abuse by simply saying ‘not my job’”? he asked.

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