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Dany told other church members the curate was a sexual abuser, but they changed the subject

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Hearing about the Truth Project brought back memories that Dany had tried not to think about for 50 years.

He is considering whether he would like to have therapy.

Dany’s father had a mental health condition and was violent at times. For this reason, Dany’s mum encouraged him to play out a lot.

Dany began hanging around the local town with his friend. One day, the boys ended up at the church. They met the curate, Mr Walker, who offered to show them the bell tower if they would agree to join the choir.

The boys agreed. As Mr Walker showed them round, Dany noticed that he kept touching both the boys, putting his arm around their shoulders and patting their bottoms, and laughing nervously as he did this. 

The boys, who were both 11 years old, joined the choir and over the following few years, Mr Walker sexually abused Dany. It began with touching and digital penetration. When Dany reached puberty, the curate raped him.

The abuse took place at the church, and in Mr Walker’s home. After he abused Dany, Mr Walker would pray fervently for forgiveness, then he would cry and vow he would never do it again.  

Sometimes Mr Walker would get angry with Dany and would hit him, especially if he thought he was showing an interest in girls.

At first, Dany says, he didn’t understand the nature of what was happening, and it seemed fun and daring. But as the abuse escalated, he found it ‘disgusting’ and ‘horrific’. After talking to his friend, Dany realised that Mr Walker was abusing him too. 

Dany’s friend also had a difficult family life. ‘So we couldn’t turn to them for help’ he says. But both boys tried to tell different adults about what was happening to them. They told the rector that Mr Walker was being ‘touchy-feely’ and wouldn’t leave them alone. The rector immediately changed the subject.

Next, Dany told two people who were in the choir. They too changed the subject.

Dany then spoke to someone who ran a church youth club. This man was very dismissive, and simply told Dany to keep away from Mr Walker.

He began talking to other boys in the choir, and realised several of them were being abused by Mr Walker. He wanted to tell his mother what was happening but he couldn’t find the words to do this. ‘I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t know how I could talk about it’ he says.

Some time later, Dany learned that Mr Walker had joined the local church after allegations of sexual abuse had been made against him at a previous church. He now knows that when Mr Walker finally left Dany’s church, he went to work at a boys’ school. 

Dany encountered two more abusers in his church. He was not abused by them, but other boys told him they were.

He came to distrust the church and felt thoroughly let down by adults. He says ‘It’s the way when we told people that they brushed it aside’. He has questioned Mr Walker’s motive for running the choir: ‘Was he a paedophile who became involved in the church so that he could act out his fantasies?’ he asks. 

Dany says that his way of ‘dealing’ with what happened to him has been to ‘blank it out’, but he now realises how much it affected him as a child, and still does as an adult. He found it hard to concentrate at school and did not do well. He lacks confidence and has been confused about his sexuality. He says he thought he didn’t need therapy ‘but maybe I do’. 

He says that when he heard about the Truth Project ‘It brought back memories I hadn’t thought about in a long time, and I did get emotional about it’. 

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