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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.



Melvin observes ‘Sometimes the friendliest, most personable people are the worst abusers’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

When Melvin was sexually abused at the age of nine, he felt able to tell his loving and supportive parents what had happened.

But the following year, the local vicar began grooming him and then sexually abusing him. The abuser was liked and respected by Melvin’s church-going family, and the local parish community. This caused great confusion for Melvin, and made it impossible for him to speak out about the abuse.

Melvin was born in the early 1950s. He says that he and his brother felt very loved and protected by their mother and father, and he feels ‘blessed’ to have been brought up in such a loving family. His parents were devoted to the Church of England and committed to charity work.  

When Melvin was nine, an 18-year-old family friend came to stay while he completed his police training. 

One day, Melvin was alone in the house with the young man and was sexually abused by him. He cannot remember the full details but knows that sexual acts were perpetrated against him. He remembers the abuser had a cigarette in his hand and threatened to burn Melvin if he told anyone about what had happened.

A few days later Melvin’s parents noticed he seemed troubled, and said that if anyone had hurt him he should tell them. Melvin confided in his parents – he says they were ‘wonderful’. He doesn’t know what action they took but he never saw the abuser again.

Over the following year, the local vicar befriended several families in the area, including Melvin’s family. The clergyman was highly respected in the parish community and Melvin says ‘It was due to this strong connection to the life of the parish church that our vicar was able to groom me … for his … perverse sexual gratification’.

His parents suggested Melvin help the vicar with his gardening and he remembers the vicar ‘being kind’ and giving him tea and biscuits. He now sees this was the beginning of the grooming process.

Melvin relates how the vicar had ‘grand designs’ regarding the church and was planning to create some artwork featuring a New Testament scene. He used this as a pretext to get some of the choir girls and boys, including Melvin and his brother, to do nude modelling for him. 

The vicar let it be known that he had back trouble, and Melvin remembers how everyone felt sorry for him. Melvin recalls the vicar asking him to massage his back, and that his mother agreed to this as she thought it was innocent.

But the vicar would be naked during the massage sessions and would make Melvin play with his genitals. During confession he would press Melvin to talk explicitly about masturbation. This abuse took place over three years. 

Melvin says that unlike the first occasion when he was abused, he ‘did not think to tell anyone about the vicar’. He explains there was ‘an air of respectability’ about him and he felt that to tell anyone would ‘somehow be wrong ... it didn't even occur to me that was an option’.

When Melvin was an older teenager the vicar made him simulate a sex act, supposedly for the purpose of making a religious film. He says by this age he felt clear that he was very uncomfortable and that the vicar was abusing his power. The abuse became public knowledge, and the vicar took ‘early retirement’.

A few years ago, Melvin began to feel that he needed to revisit his experiences of childhood sexual abuse. He says that until then ‘outwardly everything seemed fine, but underneath were things I was afraid to look at’. He reported the abuse to the police and to the church.

The vicar had died by this time and Melvin did not wish to pursue the case against the first abuser. But he wanted an acknowledgement from the church. He had an unsatisfactory meeting with senior clergy in the parish and says ‘I am very unhappy by the way that … the Church of England has wallpapered over the situation’.

Melvin describes the significant effect the abuse has had on his life. He says he tried to bury his memories, but ‘they nearly buried me’. He feels shame and guilt and struggles to forgive himself that he has had two failed marriages, due to issues with sex and relationships. He experiences nightmares and flashbacks of the abuse.

He still has a strong religious faith, and now has a supportive wife and a loving relationship with his child. He works with a charity to help others who have experienced abuse or other traumas.

He feels strongly that although his abuse is ‘historical’ it should not be seen as any less significant, and that the Church should be less defensive in looking at past abuse. 

Melvin would like to see clear safeguarding policies so that children understand what is and isn't acceptable behaviour around an individual’s bodies. He also thinks that safeguarding officers in all parishes should run sessions for parents and young people about child sexual abuse. 

He sums up ‘Childhood sexual abuse is something no person should have to suffer. Its effects are traumatic and last a lifetime. For what? A few fleeting moments of self-gratification and a totally distorted sense of perverse power over the most vulnerable’.

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