An independent report said Tuesday that the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual predators for decades, preferring instead to safeguard its own reputation, and created a culture where abusers were able to hide.
The report, published by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, also found examples of clergymen being ordained despite a history of child sexual offenses.
The inquiry heard that, from the 1940s to 2018, 390 people who were either members of the clergy or in positions of trust associated with the church had been convicted of sexual offences against children.
The report found that, in many cases, the Church of England failed to take the abuse allegations seriously, and that perpetrators were “given more support than victims.”
“Over many decades, the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual abusers, instead facilitating a culture where perpetrators could hide and victims faced barriers to disclosure that many could not overcome,” the inquiry’s chairwoman, Alexis Jay, wrote.
“(T)he Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual abusers, instead facilitating a culture where perpetrators could hide and victims faced barriers to disclosure that many could not overcome.”
The report found that the church sometimes minimized sexual offenses. Citing the case of Reverend Ian Hughes, who was convicted in 2014 of downloading 8,000 indecent images of children, the report said that a fellow clergyman, Bishop Peter Foster, told the inquiry that Hughes had been “misled into viewing child pornography.” This, despite the fact that more than 800 of the images Hughes had downloaded were graded at the most serious level of abuse.
The report also cited the case of Timothy Storey, who is serving 15 years in prison for several crimes against children, including rape. Storey reportedly was permitted to continue working among children after expressing “remorse for everything he had done wrong.”
The Church of England did not immediately comment on the report Tuesday. It announced last month that it had set up a large compensation fund for survivors of past abuse by members of the clergy.