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Priest barred from ministry for life for non-disclosure of husband’s sex offences

13 March 2023

St Helen’s Solihull

St Helen’s Solihull, one of three churches in the benefice. No offending is said to have taken place on this site

St Helen’s Solihull, one of three churches in the benefice. No offending is said to have taken place on this site

A PRIEST who failed to disclose her husband’s sexual abuse of children (News, 21 October 2022) has been barred from ministry for life.

The priest, the Revd Helen Greenham, who had been a Team Vicar in the Solihull Team Ministry, in the West Midlands, since 2011, admitted not telling Birmingham diocese that her now former husband, Peter Jenkins, 52, had a previous history of child abuse. She was suspended after his offending came to light in 2019, when a solicitor contacted West Midlands Police to say that Mr Jenkins wanted to confess. Last August, Jenkins, a former teacher, was jailed for 13 years after admitting 15 offences, including rape, committed between 1984 and 2005.

A penalty hearing of the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal, held last week in Birmingham, ordered Ms Greenham’s removal from office, and imposed a Prohibition from Ministry for Life Order, which, the panel said, reflected “the severity of the misconduct”. In a statement, it said that she had accepted “complaints brought against her concerning misconduct in public office under the Clergy Discipline Measure”.

In addition to her admission of silence, Ms Greenham, who was also director for the children’s and families’ ministry in the Solihull Team, admitted exposing others to risk of harm as a consequence, and failing to manage the risk by allowing her husband to perform jobs within the church. Mr Jenkins had worked with a youth group at St Helen’s, but there was no evidence of any criminal behaviour connected to the church. The couple have since separated.

Mr Jenkins’s victims were four young girls. One, who was aged 12 when the offending began, told BBC Midands that she had had an abortion at the age of 13, while Mr Jenkins was a student in the late 1980s. She said: “Helen knew of my age, my abortion, because she was at university with [Jenkins] at the time. Helen knew he’d abused a 12-year-old and got her pregnant at 13.”

A spokeswoman for Birmingham diocese said that it would issue a full statement, once the complete findings of the tribunal were published, 28 days after the hearing. “At this time, we are unable to comment on related matters such as what happens now in the parish, and about a replacement priest,” she said. The diocese “has provided and will continue to provide pastoral provision, support, and updates to the parish. The diocesan safeguarding team also support and work closely with the parish, which will also continue.

“If a person has any concerns about a child, young person, or adult who may be vulnerable, or someone who works/volunteers for the Church of England [in] Birmingham, they should contact the Bishop’s Safeguarding Adviser.”

Last month, the couple’s son Benjamin Greenham, 24, was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court for eight years and four months, after being convicted of 11 child sex offences, including rape, sexual assault of a child under 13, and possessing prohibited images. He was also put on an extended licence for four years, and barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.

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