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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child protection in religious organisations and settings Investigation Report

Contents

Pen portraits

PR-A14, PR-A15 and PR-A16

Todros Grynhaus was a prominent member of the Charedi Jewish community in Manchester and the son of a rabbi.[1]

In the 1980s, when PR-A14 was 13 years of age, Grynhaus would frequently tickle him under his clothing and around his genitals. When PR-A15 was between the ages of seven and 15 years old, from the mid 1990s, she was sexually abused on a number of occasions by Grynhaus, including touching her genital areas and breasts, and being forced to perform oral sex on him. Over a four-month period in 2003, when PR-A16 was aged 15, Grynhaus showed her pornography, massaged her breasts and penetrated her vagina with his fingers. He also put PR-A16’s hand around his penis and attempted to force her to perform oral sex on him.[2]

In 2004, while she was in Israel, PR-A16 disclosed her abuse to a rabbi, who sought advice from a rabbi in America. She also told a friend, who reported the allegations to another individual. Later in 2004, PR-A16 provided a statement to a rabbi regarding her abuse by Grynhaus. The rabbi sent Grynhaus for counselling.[3]

In 2006, when PR-A16 was 18 years old, she spoke to influential individuals within the Charedi community about her abuse and was offered £5,000 compensation. They told PR-A16 that this was the “only route” – it was “not considered an option” to go to the police because to do so would result in her being regarded as a ‘Moiser’ and being shunned by the community. A Moiser is a Jewish term for someone who informs on another Jew to secular authorities. Centuries of persecution and unfairness means that there is Jewish learning and tradition that someone should not be reported to secular authorities for fear of those authorities’ response to the Jewish community, or unfairness in the trial process. Someone who does so is considered to have betrayed their community.[4] The Charedi Jewish community is small. An individual’s social, religious and family lives often take place entirely within it, as well as their employment. To be shunned by the community would lead to significant social isolation, potentially even from family members, and loss of potential employment; it would be devastating for someone who had known no other life.

In 2011, Grynhaus met with a clinical psychologist together with his wife and two rabbis. Grynhaus “admitted … to ‘messing with PR-A15 sexually’, and to sexually abusing PR-A16”. Both rabbis who went to this meeting eventually testified at his trial, though one required a witness summons to compel his attendance.[5]

Grynhaus was charged with offences relating to PR-A14, PR-A15 and PR-A16 in 2012. While on bail, he fled the UK for Israel using a false passport and had to be extradited back to the UK in 2014. In 2015, Grynhaus was convicted of offences relating to PR-A15 and PR-A16, and was sentenced to 13 years and two months in prison. As a result, the Crown Prosecution Service did not proceed with the allegations relating to PR-A14 (which were to be tried separately).[6]

In sentencing Grynhaus, the trial judge observed:

“I have no doubt that you felt able to rely on a prevailing attitude of insularity which you hoped would prevent these allegations ever coming to the attention of the police. You hoped that, at worst, you might have to pay a form of financial penalty … You believed that the combination of the girls’ sexual ignorance, and the attitudes of some within your community, would make it even harder for your victims to complain about you”.[7]

PR-A4

PR-A4 attended a madrasah (an education setting for Islamic instruction) every day after school between the ages of 6 and 11 in the 1990s. The madrasah was held at the home of family friends, which was set up as a ‘house mosque’. Classes were taught by the family, including their teenage son, who was 16 or 17 years old.[8]

The son began to abuse PR-A4 when she was 8 years old and continued until she was 11 years old. He touched her genitals under the benches in the classroom and also assaulted her in the house mosque’s bathroom or in his bedroom. This progressed to PR-A4 having to perform oral sex on him – if she did not comply, he would force or blackmail her. He went on to rape PR-A4 vaginally and anally.[9]

PR-A4 told a teaching assistant at her secondary school of rumours of abuse at the madrasah, but did not disclose her own abuse. The police investigated the madrasah. It remained open and the alleged perpetrator continued to teach.[10]

When PR-A4 was 14 years old, she told her family about the abuse. Her mother tried to speak to the parents of other children. PR-A4 told us that no one wanted to support the allegations because of the cultural shame it would bring on the family of the boy. PR-A4 suffered harassment from others in the community who learnt of the allegations. She was called a “dirty tart” or a “slag”. No action was taken by the house mosque.[11]

The perpetrator was subsequently convicted of two offences, though acquitted of others. He was sentenced to one year in prison. During the trial, some members of the Muslim community who were influential within it supported the perpetrator. PR-A4 found the experience to be very distressing. The case was openly discussed on a local website and PR-A4 was publicly named as a complainant.[12]

PR-A10

In the 1990s, David North was a volunteer and active member of the Methodist Church congregation. PR-A10 attended church with her friends and participated in voluntary activities within the church. North would play games with PR-A10 after services and would also hug her from behind.[13]

When PR-A10 was 12 years old, North asked her to help him retrieve something from a storage room. He pushed himself against her, put his hands under her clothes and sexually assaulted her. PR-A10 felt “absolutely trapped” and “completely powerless”.[14] PR-A10 told a friend within a day or two and her mother soon afterwards, who informed the police.[15]

During the police investigation, three other young girls – of an age within two years of PR-A10 and from the same Sunday school – came forward with similar allegations.[16] North pleaded guilty part-way through his trial to two counts of sexually assaulting PR-A10 and another young girl.[17]

PR-A10 said that she was not provided with any support by her local Methodist minister following the disclosure. During a telephone call, the minister told PR-A10’s mother that North and his family were “valued members of the church” and that he must be considered “innocent until proven guilty”. PR-A10 and her mother interpreted that as insinuating that she might not be telling the truth, and PR-A10 felt “a level of blame from the church”.[18] Following North’s conviction, the minister did not provide any support to PR-A10, or apologise.[19]

In December 2018, almost 30 years later, and after PR-A10 had a career working with victims and survivors of abuse, she contacted the Methodist Church and made a disciplinary complaint against the minister. A panel concluded that the minister did not meet reasonable expectations of pastoral care.[20] In November 2019, the complaint was considered by a committee under the Complaints and Discipline Procedure, and upheld in part. The committee found that the minister had not intended to cause any harm or distress to PR-A10 – as a result, there would be no disciplinary sanction, except that the minister should apologise. If no apology was produced, alternative sanctions would be considered.[21]

PR-A10 was “absolutely appalled” that they could “effectively make a sanction an apology … If you force an apology, it’s not an apology”.[22] When PR-A10 declined the apology, no further sanction was imposed. The decision of the committee was appealed. The appeal was heard in March 2020, with the outcome that the original decision was upheld and no further sanction was imposed.[23]

PR-A10 has been invited by the Methodist Church to assist with a review of its Complaints and Discipline Procedure. We are told that it is anticipated that the review will conclude with a final report being made to the Methodist Conference in 2022.[24]

PR-A5

PR-A5 was raised as a member of a congregation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Peter Stewart attended the same Kingdom Hall as her family and was a ‘ministerial servant’. Ministerial servants “primarily deal with routine organisational tasks, such as maintaining adequate stocks of Bibles and other religious literature, and assisting with the maintenance of the Kingdom Hall”.[25] Stewart led Bible study classes at PR-A5’s home and she attended lessons at his home.[26]

She was abused by Stewart in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when she was between four and nine years old. When PR-A5 was four years old, he lifted her up and touched her vagina following a Bible study session. He asked her if she liked it. He touched PR-A5 under her clothes during Bible study while her mother and sister were in the room:

“Basically, every occasion that I saw him, where he could find some way either of getting me alone or not even necessarily getting me alone. If he was able to manipulate the situation on every occasion that he saw me, something would happen. The degree of what happened depended on how much privacy … he could get.”[27]

The abuse escalated to Stewart penetrating PR-A5’s vagina with his fingers or with his tongue when they were alone in a room in her home or his, even if there were others in the house. When PR-A5 was six or seven years old, Stewart penetrated her vagina with his penis.[28] The abuse ended when PR-A5 was nine years old, when he disappeared from their lives after being arrested for sexual assault on another young person. PR-A5 did not disclose her abuse at that time:

“I tried … there were many times I tried. I just couldn’t ever. I always used to say to her, ‘Mum, I’ve got something to tell you. I’ve got something really important to tell you’ and then I just couldn’t tell her.”[29]

Stewart was arrested in 1994 and subsequently convicted when another victim reported to the police that he had abused her. During the investigation, the police found references to PR-A5 in his diaries and papers.[30]

In January 1995, Stewart ‘disassociated’ himself as a Jehovah’s Witness (ie he chose to leave the organisation).[31] PR-A5 felt unable to tell her mother of the abuse and, unaware of the full facts, PR-A5’s mother wrote a character reference in support of Stewart for his trial in 1994.[32]

Shortly before Stewart’s release from prison, PR-A5 found out about his release. It affected her badly and, in 2000, she told her mother about the abuse.[33] Her mother wrote to Stewart, who replied admitting his abuse of PR-A5 and apologising for the hurt and damage he had caused.[34] Upon receipt of the letter, PR-A5’s mother contacted an elder of the congregation and also went to the police.[35] In May 2001, PR-A5 was interviewed by the police. When the police went thereafter to see Stewart about the allegation, they discovered he had died.[36]

PR-A5 commenced a civil claim against the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2013.[37] The claim was defended by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. PR-A5’s claim was upheld by the judge at trial.[38] In the course of the civil claim, PR-A5 discovered that, around the time at which Stewart had been abusing her, he had admitted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses that he had abused another child in the congregation.[39]

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