UPDATE: Abuse victim’s 1995 complaint against deceased bishop ‘not properly listened to’

Chichester Cathedral
Chichester Cathedral

A sex abuse victim of former Bishop of Chichester George Bell remains ‘bitter’ an earlier complaint was not followed up, according to a solicitor.

The Bishop of Chichester in 1995 Eric Kemp was told of the allegations but did not refer it to police, according to the victim’s solicitor Tracey Emmott.

“The new culture of openness in the Church of England is genuinely refreshing and seems to represent a proper recognition of the dark secrets of its past, many of which may still not have come to light,” she said.

“While my client is glad this case is over, they remain bitter that their 1995 complaint was not properly listened to or dealt with until my client made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013.

“That failure to respond properly was very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had a profound effect on my client’s life.

“For my client, the compensation finally received does not change anything. How could any amount of money possibly compensate for childhood abuse?

“However, my client recognises that it represents a token of apology. What mattered to my client most and has brought more closure than anything was the personal letter my client has recently received from the Bishop of Chichester.”

According to a statement released by the Diocese of Chichester, Bishop Kemp responded to correspondence from the victim by offering pastoral support but did not refer the matter to the police or, so far as is known, investigate the matter further.

It was not until contact with Lambeth Palace in 2013 that the survivor was put in touch with the safeguarding team at the Diocese of Chichester who referred the matter to the police and offered personal support and counselling to the victim.

In his letter to the victim, Bishop Warner acknowledged the response from the Diocese of Chichester in 1995, when the victim first came forward, ‘fell a long way short, not just of what is expected now, but of what we now appreciate you should have had a right to expect then’.

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