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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church Case Study: Archdiocese of Birmingham Investigation Report

B.2: Prevalence and scale

11. In order to consider the nature and extent of child sexual abuse by individuals associated with the Archdiocese, the Inquiry prepared a schedule of allegations.[1] This schedule sets out the number of allegations, a brief description of the allegation and the outcome (where known). Where a perpetrator abused or allegedly abused a number of children, there is a separate entry for each victim or complainant.

12. In total, between the mid 1930s and 2018, there were no fewer than 78 individuals associated with the Archdiocese who were the subject of at least 134 allegations of child sexual abuse.[2] In a great number of cases, by the time the allegation was reported to either the Archdiocese, the police or another statutory agency, the perpetrator had died. Of those individuals who could be prosecuted, 13 individuals were convicted and three individuals were cautioned. [3] The vast majority of those who faced such allegations were priests and deacons.

13. The schedule depicts only what the documents reviewed by the Inquiry say about the scale of offending and allegations. The documents came from several different sources, spanned a number of decades, and were in some parts difficult to decipher. On that basis, the schedule should not be considered a definitive list of all allegations and actual abuse committed within the Archdiocese of Birmingham. Some entries may relate to the same allegation where, for example, different institutions have recorded the same allegation differently. Equally, given the poor quality of some of the records provided, it could not be said with confidence that every allegation ever made has been captured. Indeed it is likely that the true scale of the allegations and offending is far higher than that set out in the schedule.

14. In any event, it is clear that serious allegations of child sexual abuse were reported to the Archdiocese decade after decade. Most reports to the police or the Archdiocese were made from the late 1990s onwards, with the majority of allegations relating to incidents that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s.

15. The schedule cannot convey the devastating impact that child sexual abuse can have on the victims and complainants. The Inquiry considered with care the statements of those complainant core participants whose evidence was either read at the public hearing or published. The accounts describe the many ways in which the abuse has affected them. RC‐A491, who was sexually abused at Croome Court (a children’s home run by the Archdiocese), told us that he was “robbed of that childhood”. [4] RC‐A493, who was also sexually abused at Croome Court, said that the abuse made him angry, aggressive, and unable to trust people. To this day it gives him “such bad nightmares that I cannot sleep through the night”. [5] RC‐A1, another victim of sexual abuse at Croome Court, self-harmed from childhood into adulthood and is now diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, requiring lifelong treatment and care.[6]

16. It is against the background of such a large number of allegations and such widespread abuse that the Inquiry selected the four individual cases (Samuel Penney, James Robinson, Father John Tolkien and RC‐F167) through which to examine the response of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

References

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