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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report

C.5: The events leading to Peter Ball’s arrest

The allegations by Neil Todd

71. For a significant part of his adolescence, Mr Neil Todd had wanted to be part of a religious community or lead a religious life. In 1991 he wrote to Peter Ball expressing his wish to join the Little Brothers and Sisters of Christ, an offshoot organisation from the Give a Year to God scheme. Mr Todd learnt about this scheme from his local parish.

72. Mr Todd first visited Peter Ball in Sussex in 1991, when he was 17 years old. On his first night at Peter Ball’s home, Mr Todd was told he must be obedient and give his all to God. Alone with Peter Ball in his chapel, Mr Todd was told to remove his clothes in order to recite the ‘Penitential Psalms’. Peter Ball preached to him about the life of St Francis and said they should emulate him by praying whilst nude. Mr Todd said he was required to take a cold shower whilst Peter Ball watched. When Mr Todd tried to wear his underwear in the shower Peter Ball called him “silly” and removed it.[1]

73. After Peter Ball’s appointment to the Diocese of Gloucester, Mr Todd visited him at Bishopscourt to begin his postulancy (the start of his route to becoming a monk) in July 1992. He was 18 years old at that time.

74. Mr and Mrs Moss, the housekeeper and chauffeur to the Bishop of Gloucester (both Peter Ball and Bishop John Yates before him) met Mr Todd and considered him a quiet and naive young man. He acted, more or less, as a servant in the house and went out very rarely.[2]

75. When he was interviewed by police in 1992, Mr Todd said that Peter Ball spoke to him during that time about the pain of Christ and told him that if he was disobedient he would be beaten with a stick or whip. Mr Todd was frightened of being beaten but Peter Ball pressed for a date when this would take place. This was set for 5 September 1992.[3]

76. Mr and Mrs Moss had noticed, as they had become friendly with Mr Todd, that he seemed very frightened of Peter Ball. He came to them when they were about to go on holiday, worried about being left alone with Peter Ball. Mr Todd told them that Peter Ball wanted to whip or beat him, and showed them one of a large bundle of letters in which Peter Ball spoke of a final act which would be required to show that Mr Todd had given himself to God. Reluctant to leave him alone, Mr and Mrs Moss took Mr Todd away with them on their holiday.[4]

77. When they all returned from holiday on 21 September 1992, Mr Todd told Peter Ball he intended to go to Crawley Down, a monastery in Sussex, to continue his training. He told police that the night before he left, Peter Ball said they should “share their love”. Mr Todd said that Peter Ball came to his bedroom that night. They embraced naked. Mr Todd said he felt uncomfortable, embarrassed and ashamed but felt that he had to accede to the request. Obedience, he had been told by Peter Ball, was a fundamental feature of the monastic life.[5]

78. Mr and Mrs Moss had become concerned about the behaviour of Peter Ball. Firstly, this was because of what Mr Todd had told them and because of their concern for him. They had also noted that numbers of young men came and went from the Bishop’s residence, often staying over and drinking late into the night. They were worried about what was going on, and resolved to speak to Bishop Yates about it because, as the previous diocesan bishop, they knew and trusted him.

79. Bishop Yates had moved to be Bishop at Lambeth (a senior cleric who would provide advice and support to the Archbishop of Canterbury). Mr and Mrs Moss visited him at Lambeth Palace and told him what was happening and about Peter Ball’s wish to beat Mr Todd. They asked him to put a stop to it. Bishop Yates did not say anything they considered to be helpful. He simply told them that if they had any further concerns they should go and see the Bishop of Tewkesbury, Jeremy Walsh.[6] Archbishop George Carey said this information was never passed to him, although he and Bishop Yates had a relationship of trust.[7]

80. Mr and Mrs Moss also visited Bishop Walsh, who had not heard anything from Bishop Yates. He was surprised at what they told him but offered no helpful solution. Mr and Mrs Moss were left feeling isolated and did not know what to do. They had told two senior clerics about Peter Ball’s behaviour but, as far as they could see, nothing was done.[8]

81. After a month at Crawley Down, in October 1992 Mr Todd returned to Bishopscourt. Again, at Peter Ball’s request, Mr Todd said they removed their clothes and contact took place by way of rubbing of bodies, which resulted in ejaculation by Peter Ball. Peter Ball asked him not to tell anyone. Mr Todd, who had been totally committed to his monastic life, trusted Peter Ball’s word that this nakedness and this behaviour was part of his spiritual education and was necessary to learn obedience.

82. Shortly after this event, Mr Todd went to London and met with AN-A92, who was a member of the Little Brothers and Sisters of Christ. He told AN-A92 what had happened. AN-A92 was shocked and explained this was not a normal part of monastic life; he said he would speak to Peter Ball. Distraught, vulnerable and feeling that he had been deceived by someone he respected and admired, Mr Todd tried to take his own life in November 1992. He was by this time 19 years old.[9]

Mr Todd’s disclosures to the Church

83. Whilst in hospital in London, Mr Todd began to disclose what had happened, firstly to Reverend Nigel Godfrey (then a local vicar in London). Reverend Godfrey organised for Mr Todd to meet with the then Bishop of Southwark, Roy Williamson. On his first visit, Mr Todd was in great distress and was too tearful to give a full account. He returned the next day and was able to tell the bishop that when he stayed with Peter Ball he “would require us all to be naked”. Although this concerned Bishop Williamson, he did not think there was any “suggestion of impropriety”, though he did identify that Mr Todd was in some significant distress.[10] That same day the bishop met with Bishop Eric Kemp (Peter Ball’s former diocesan bishop) and relayed the disclosure to him. Bishop Kemp commented “oh, he’s still on that nakedness business is he”,[11] which shows he was aware of at least some of Peter Ball’s activities.

84. Around the same time, Bishop Kemp was also contacted by AN-A92 who relayed the allegations by Mr Todd.[12] Bishop Kemp interpreted Mr Todd’s allegations as a “homosexual relationship”.[13] Bishop Kemp spoke to Peter Ball who denied any sexual contact with Mr Todd. Peter Ball then wrote an account of his relationship with Mr Todd which he faxed to Bishop Kemp. This was apparently wholly defensive and denied sexual activity;[14] he claimed to have taught Mr Todd about discipline (including getting up at 5.30am and having a cold shower). He accepted embracing Mr Todd at his request but denied any genital contact. Bishop Kemp destroyed this fax at Peter Ball’s request, shortly after his arrest.[15]

85. Bishop Kemp met with Mr Todd to try to negotiate a reconciliation with Peter Ball, which Mr Todd refused. He disclosed to Bishop Kemp what had happened whilst he was staying with Peter Ball, including sexual contact in Mr Todd’s bed, during which Peter Ball “had an emission”.[16] Mr Todd said that all he wanted was for Peter Ball to admit what had happened and for him to cease to be a bishop.[17]

86. In the meantime, Peter Ball also contacted and met with Superintendent John Horan, a Gloucestershire Constabulary officer with whom he was friendly. Superintendent Horan’s father had previously been the Bishop of Tewkesbury. At their meeting, Peter Ball told Superintendent Horan the only thing he had done was to give Mr Todd a hug, on which basis Superintendent Horan advised him no criminal offence had been committed.[18]

87. By the time of Peter Ball’s arrest, at least three senior bishops and a number of other clergy knew of the allegations by Mr Todd. None of them told the police or thought to do so. Overall, this has the appearance of an attempt to ensure that the matter did not become known to the authorities. The reputation of the Church and Peter Ball was given a higher priority than the obvious distress of a vulnerable young man.

The response of Lambeth Palace to Mr Todd’s disclosures

88. On 11 December 1992, Archbishop Carey was briefed about Mr Todd’s disclosures by Bishop Kemp and Bishop Williamson at Lambeth Palace.

89. The Archbishop described that time as a “perfect storm”. He was facing “impending threats of schism” within the Church on the question of the ordination of women. This had been debated by the General Synod only a month before, with significant numbers of clergy indicating that they would leave the Church of England or refuse to accept a woman as a member of clergy within their parish. In addition, he was facing a “potential constitutional crisis” in the separation of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, of which he had been informed two days earlier.[19]

90. He was told by Bishop Kemp and Bishop Williamson that the allegations involved both naked prayer and genital touching, and that Mr Todd had tried to take his own life.[20] Archbishop Carey did not tell the police or instruct the police to be informed. He immediately summoned Peter Ball to see him.[21]

91. Archbishop Carey said in 2014 that he had arranged for pastoral care to be provided to Mr Todd once he had been told of what had happened. No such arrangement ever happened because on the same day, 11 December 1992, Mr Todd tried again to take his own life. This time, his parents were informed of what he had done and visited him in hospital, where they described him as “a physical and emotional wreck”. He told them about Peter Ball’s criminal behaviour. He also told his father he had already disclosed this to individuals within the Church because he did not want anyone to go through what he had suffered. Mr Todd’s parents contacted the police the same day to report Peter Ball for his sexual offending.[22]

92. The next day, 12 December 1992, Archbishop Carey received a written briefing from Bishop Yates about Mr Todd’s second suicide attempt and the fact that the allegations against Peter Ball had been reported to the police.[23] The only concern expressed in the briefing was that the story could be leaked to the media. Bishop Yates queried whether they should contact the local police to flag the catastrophic effect that an investigation could have on Peter Ball and the Church. Other than noting that the chaplain at the hospital in Brixton had assisted Mr Todd, there was no discussion of what support would be offered to him by the Church.

93. By making disclosures to bishops and, indirectly, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr Todd had raised the alarm at the very highest level of the Church. He had been encouraged to ‘reconcile’ with Peter Ball and did not feel that he had been taken seriously. When he tried to take his own life for the second time, Mr Todd had not received reassurance or support from senior Church figures and, so far as he could see, nothing had been done to prevent Peter Ball from posing a risk to anyone else or to begin a disciplinary process.

94. On the information known to the Church prior to Peter Ball’s arrest, he had allegedly been involved in naked prayer with a young man who had been led to believe it was a necessary sign of obedience and part of monastic living. Whatever the criminality, the alleged conduct was sordid and contrary to the vows taken by bishops and canons of the Church. No action was taken to put a stop to Peter Ball’s behaviour or to protect others from it. The Church failed to support and protect a vulnerable young man who had done nothing wrong.

95. Whilst it is true that there were not, at that time, any policies in place for dealing with such situations and that the concept of protection of a vulnerable adult was either not known or not well understood, the response of the Church was weak and focussed on protecting its own reputation.

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