Honorary assistant bishop George Carey has been asked to resign by the Archbishop of Canterbury over his role in a 20-year cover up of sexual abuse perpetrated by former bishop Peter Ball. He failed to pass letters on to the police and “colluded” with Ball to protect him, which perhaps contributed to Ball’s short initial stint in prison and ability to continue working at schools until a second investigation was opened a full twenty years after the abuse.
“To the survivors who were brave enough to share their story and bring Peter Ball to justice, I once again offer an unreserved apology,” said Archbishop Welby. “There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systemic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades.”
Sadly, the story of Ball’s crimes is all too familiar from other instances of sexual abuse by powerful, respected community figures. Ball was initially accused in 1993, but because he was so well respected and connected a bishop, numerous people came to his defense. He resigned from the Church of England to avoid further scrutiny and, far from living in exile, settled into a rental on Prince Charles’ Cornwall estate. There is no evidence, however, that the royal family was aware of Ball’s abuse. The culture of silence perpetuated by the Church and police meant Ball was able to carry on work in schools for the next fourteen years.
It wasn’t until 2012 that an investigation into the sexual abuse allegations of 18 young men saw him convicted and jailed for sixteen counts of misconduct in public office relating to sexual abuse and four counts of indecent assault against four young men. He plead guilty, a deal was struck to avoid public trail for his worst offenses, and Ball was released after serving just 16 months of his sentence — not even one month served per victim. In the time between when the abuse took place and when Ball was convicted, one of his victims had killed himself, his fourth and final attempt.
Archbishop Welby ordered an independent review of how the Church of England approached Ball’s case. The Church’s lead safeguarding bishop responded, “Having read the report I am appalled and disturbed by its contents … As a church we colluded, we failed to act and protect those who came forward for help. There are no excuses. We accept all the recommendations and are working to action them.”
Welby also noted the sad truth of cases in which it takes this long for victims to be heard and justice served: “For the survivors, it may feel this is all too late.” Too late for these 18 victims, but not too late for young people who may never live through the same abuse, thanks to the Church of England’s fresh efforts to clean house.
(Via The Guardian)