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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Anglican Church Investigation Report

Contents

Pen portraits

Bishop Victor Whitsey

Victor Whitsey was ordained in the Diocese of Blackburn in 1949. Between 1955 and 1968 he was a priest in the Diocese of Manchester and the Diocese of Blackburn. He was appointed the suffragan Bishop of Hertford in the Diocese of St Albans in 1971 and then the Bishop of Chester in 1974, a position which he held until his retirement in early 1982. He continued to officiate in the Diocese of Blackburn until his death in 1987.[1]

In January 2016, an adult male disclosed to a vicar that he had been indecently assaulted by Whitsey as a child in the early 1980s. The diocesan safeguarding adviser (DSA) was immediately informed. In addition to offering pastoral support to the complainant, she alerted the Bishop of Chester, Peter Forster (who told us that he “had little more to do with the matter”) and referred the case to the National Safeguarding Team.[2]

The complainant also stated that he had disclosed his abuse to Bishop Forster in 2002. He was offered counselling but said that no further action was taken. Bishop Forster had a “vague memory of somebody … saying that Victor Whitsey had put his arm around him”.[3] He said that this “didn’t register at the time” because Whitsey “did have a reputation for odd behaviour, in general”.[4] Bishop Forster did not make any written record or undertake any additional enquiries. This was contrary to the Church of England’s Policy on Child Protection (1999), which stated that the recipient of an allegation of abuse “must keep detailed records of their responses”, including “the content of all conversations … all decisions taken and the reasons for them”.[5]

In July 2016, the DSA received disclosures from two further males who alleged that Whitsey had sexually abused them as children, between 1974 and 1981.[6] She informed Cheshire Constabulary, which subsequently commenced an investigation – Operation Coverage. It focussed on incidents between 1974 and 1982, during Whitsey’s time as the Bishop of Chester. It identified a further 10 potential victims, including teenagers and young adults of both sexes. Police enquiries showed that it was “clear that those who reported abuse had previously disclosed details of their allegations to the Church”.[7] In October 2017, Cheshire Constabulary concluded that, had he been alive, there was sufficient evidence to interview Whitsey in relation to 10 allegations.[8]

By the time of our third hearing in July 2019, a total of 19 individuals had disclosed that they were sexually abused by Whitsey.

One of those 19 complainants was AN-A88. She was invited to meet Whitsey with her brother in 1979, when she was 13 years old. Her family hoped Whitsey would “solve all problems” after their father (who was a vicar) had left the family home.[9] She was left alone in a room with Whitsey for approximately half an hour. He enveloped AN-A88 in a “whole body hug” and told her that “men have urges”.[10] He told her to sit on his knee and AN-A88 could feel that he had an erection. She recalled that he quoted from the Bible – “Suffer the little children to come unto me” – before stroking her through her clothes and “rubbing up against me”.[11] AN-A88 was then ordered to leave the room and her brother was sent in. She described feeling “shame and guilt” after this incident.[12] AN-A88 did not tell anybody about the abuse at the time as she “wouldn’t have known who to tell … we were, as a family … ostracised by the Church at that point because the family was splitting up”.[13]

In April 2015, AN-A88 and her brother attended the interment of their mother’s ashes at an Anglican church in Cheshire. They noticed that the Book of Remembrance had been signed by Whitsey. Her brother said “That bastard abused me”; AN-A88 “looked at him … and I just went ‘Me too’”.[14]

Reverend Canon Elaine Chegwin Hall, who conducted the interment, overheard the exchange between AN-A88 and her brother. Her recollection of this conversation was that the siblings had both received “an extra long hug” from Whitsey. In June 2017, “a mention was made of Bishop Whitsey during a meeting of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel at which Reverend Hall was present. This led her to inform the DSA of the “extra long hug” that she had overheard 26 months earlier.[15] The DSA passed the information to police and AN-A88 provided a statement to Operation Coverage.[16]

AN-F15

AN-F15 was a priest and a prominent member of the Church of England. He knew the family of AN-A4 well and was attentive and kind towards AN-A4 during his teenage years. AN-F15 asked AN-A4 to visit him at his house. When he did so, AN-A4 was given alcohol by AN-F15, despite this not being permitted by his family.[17] In the 1970s, when AN-A4 was 16 years old, he went to visit AN-F15 at his home. AN-F15 asked him about his sexuality, which AN-A4 described as a “grilling”. He also asked AN-A4 whether he became sexually aroused by fighting and then began to act in a verbally aggressive manner. He ordered AN-A4 to remove his clothes and tried to “fight” with him when both were naked, pinning AN-A4 down on the bed. AN-F15 tried to rape AN-A4.[18]

When he was 18 years old, AN-A4 disclosed the abuse to a priest, AN-F14, during confession. AN-F14 asked for details of the assault, and after the confession started to kiss AN-A4 passionately. AN-F14 engaged AN-A4 in a romantic and physical relationship for around a year, before AN-F14 became a bishop.[19]

From the 1980s onwards, AN-A4 disclosed his abuse by AN-F15 to a number of senior Church of England priests and bishops. AN-A4 said that none of them offered any advice as to what he should do. Some treated his disclosure as part of the sacrament of confession and so viewed it as confidential. One bishop, to whom he disclosed in 1987, promised to make discreet inquiries but nothing happened.[20]

In 2003, AN-A4 said that he disclosed his abuse to Bishop Tim Thornton (now the Bishop at Lambeth, a senior adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury), who told him to report it to the Church. No record exists of that meeting. Bishop Thornton does not remember it. AN-A4 also said that he asked for help from Bishop Paul Butler, who was the Lead Bishop on Safeguarding at the time.[21]

AN-A4 wrote 17 letters to Lambeth Palace with his concerns about the response of senior clergy. The only response he received was a letter from the correspondence secretary, which stated that the Archbishop would “be sure to hold him in his prayers when he hears that you have written again”.[22] The Church of England recognises that using a correspondence secretary to reply to letters from victims and survivors of abuse can be insensitive and states that all correspondence relating to safeguarding which is sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury or the team around him at Lambeth Palace is now dealt with by the provincial safeguarding adviser, rather than the correspondence secretary.[23]

Timothy Storey

Between 2002 and 2007, Timothy Storey was employed as a youth and children’s worker in the Diocese of London. He also acted as a youth leader for a missionary organisation. In September 2007, with the sponsorship of the Diocese, he commenced ordinand training at a theological college in Oxford.[24] A senior leader of the missionary organisation received four disclosures of sexual abuse against Storey between 2007 and 2009. They were made by girls and young women between 13 and 19 years old, known to Storey through his youth work and leadership roles in the Church.[25]

In February 2009, the senior leader of the missionary organisation informed the Diocese of London of the allegations of abuse. Reverend Jeremy Crossley, the Director of Ordinands in the Two Cities Area,[26] met with Storey in March 2009 “to ask for his response”.[27]

This meeting was inconsistent with the Church’s own policy at the time (Protecting All God’s Children, 2004), which stated that a member of the Church should “never speak directly to the person against whom allegations have been made”.[28] During the meeting, Storey admitted to Reverend Crossley that he had sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old girl, who he met through a residential Christian event that he attended in a position of leadership.[29] According to Church policy, these disclosures should have been reported immediately to the police and social services.[30]

Following his meeting with Storey, Reverend Crossley told Reverend Hugh Valentine, the Bishop’s Adviser for Child Protection, that Storey “was basically a good man who could be an effective priest”.[31] The matter was referred to the local authority designated officer (LADO) who said it was not a live matter for them.[32] Reverend Valentine then concluded that he did not believe the circumstances to be a child protection matter”. A subsequent review concluded that this was “hugely short-sighted … it takes no account of the risk that Storey may have posed to others, who may have been within his sphere of influence and under the age of 18”.[33]

Later in March 2009, Reverend Valentine discussed the matter with the police, but on an informal basis by telephone. No further action was taken by the police because the girl was aged 16 at the time. However, “if there had been any suggestion of coercion mentioned, then it is possible that the advice would have been very different”.[34] The police were not informed about the full history of allegations against Storey or that emails received by the Diocese of London, including Reverend Valentine, showed that the complainants considered there to have been coercion. A subsequent review concluded that this conversation was a “missed opportunity” by the Diocese, as the police “did not have all the available information that they should have had to make a proper assessment”.[35] The police considered that Storey had not abused a position of trust because he was a volunteer and therefore did not fit the “strict legal criteria required to prove this offence.[36]

In 2014, after Storey’s conviction for unrelated grooming offences, further contact by a number of victims prompted a review of the diocesan case files. As a result, the London DSA contacted the police.[37] In February 2016, Storey was convicted of three offences of rape and one offence of assault by penetration. These offences took place during 2008 and 2009, and related to two of the female victims (aged 16 and 17 years) who had been in contact with the Diocese. Storey was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.[38]

During his sentencing remarks, the judge severely criticised the Diocese of London for its “utterly incompetent handling of the case and the “wholesale failure by those responsible at that time for safeguarding, to understand whose interests they should have been safeguarding”.[39]

Storey received ongoing care and supervision from the Church, while some of Storey’s victims “did not feel they were believed and felt on their own with no support”.[40]

The Diocese commissioned two independent reviews of the Storey case, in relation to its handling of the victims’ original disclosures.[41] Both reports identified a number of inadequacies in the Diocese’s response between 2009 and 2014, including its failure to implement the policies and procedures that were in place at that time.

A further review in 2019 by the independent chair of the Diocese of London Diocesan Safeguarding Steering Group reiterated the diocesan failings. It also stated that the senior leadership within the Diocese of London should have taken responsibility for the failings in this case rather than allowing Reverends Crossley and Valentine to be the focus of public “censure”.[42]

Reverend Trevor Devamanikkam

Trevor Devamanikkam was ordained in 1977 as a priest in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds. In March 1984, he moved to a parish in the Bradford diocese, where he remained until 1985. Devamanikkam retired in 1996 but between 2002 and 2009 had permission to officiate in the Diocese of Lincoln.[43]

Reverend Matthew Ineson is an ordained priest in the Church of England. During his teenage years, he had difficulties with his parents and went to live with his grandparents.[44] His family were religious and attended church regularly. Matthew Ineson was a member of the church choir and an altar server. As his grandparents were struggling, a local priest organised a respite placement living with Reverend Devamanikkam.[45]

In 1984, aged 16, Matthew Ineson went to live with Devamanikkam and his housekeeper. On his second night, Devamanikkam came into Matthew Ineson’s bedroom, put his hand underneath the covers and played with his penis. When asked if he liked it, Matthew Ineson said no. This continued for two or three nights, and then progressed to Devamanikkam telling Matthew Ineson to share his bed with him. Devamanikkam made it plain that, if he did not do so, he would be thrown out of the vicarage and would have nowhere to go.[46] While sharing a bed over a number of weeks, Devamanikkam raped Matthew Ineson at least 12 times and also sexually assaulted him.[47]

After approximately two months, Matthew Ineson’s grandmother came to the vicarage and spoke to Devamanikkam. Matthew Ineson was not part of that conversation and his grandmother left without talking to him. The next day, Matthew Ineson said that the Bishop of Bradford visited the vicarage and told him that he had to leave, saying that “It’s not my problem where you go but you have to leave here”. No reason was given.[48]

Bishop Roy Williamson (who was then Bishop of Bradford) told us that there was “disquiet about the arrangement” between Matthew Ineson and Devamanikkam but he did not remember visiting the vicarage. A licensed deacon at Devamanikkam’s church (who made a detailed report at the time about Devamanikkam’s mental health) said that it was the then Archdeacon of Bradford (David Shreeve) who had visited the vicarage. There was no written record of this visit.[49]

Reverend Ineson went to the police first in 2013 and then again in 2015. In 2017, the police investigated and charged Devamanikkam. Devamanikkam took his own life in June 2017, the day before his court appearance for three counts of buggery and three counts of indecent assault between March 1984 and April 1985, all relating to Reverend Ineson.[50]

References

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