Church says sorry for child sex abuse

editorial image

THE Bishop of Chichester has apologised for the institutional failings which led to the sexual abuse of young boys by two former members of the clergy.

One such convicted priest was Colin Pritchard (pictured), who had served as the vicar of St Barnabas Church, before his arrest in 2007.

Pritchard was jailed for five years in 2008 after pleading guilty to sexually abusing two boys in the 70s and 80s.

These offences took place at St Andrews Church, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, where Pritchard was serving as the parish priest.

When it emerged that this could have been avoided, Bishop John Hind invited The Rt Hon Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss to take an independent look at the Past Cases Review conducted in the Diocese of Chichester in 2008-9.

In her report, Baroness Butler-Sloss highlighted:

• Muddled communication between senior clergy and child protection professionals

• A “serious lack of understanding” within the clergy on the issue of child abuse

• Senior clergy being slow to act on information

• Senior clergy slow to assess potential risks to children

Following the report, Bishop Hind said: “I feel deep and profound sorrow for the pain caused to all victims and for the institutional failings of the Church in this Diocese. I am grateful to Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss for her thorough review.

“The report has now been completed, and her conclusions and recommendations are in line with what we are now doing and will continue to build on, and it will provide a strong foundation for good safeguarding practice in the Diocese. It also enables me to repeat the apology offered for mistakes made in the past.

“I am grateful to those who have helped and are helping us to learn, and wish to thank everyone who has given evidence.”

The other clergyman involved in this investigation was Roy Cotton, who worked as a priest in Brede in the 1990s. He had been convicted of child sex abuse in 1954.

He died in 2006, so further charges were never brought against him.

• The full 42-page report can be viewed by visiting www.diochi.org.uk/review