Devon man sexually abused by priest criticises police

BBC News
March 17, 2016

Vickery House was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault between 1970 and 1986

House's abuse emerged during the investigation into former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball

The Bishop of Exeter, the Right Reverend Robert Atwell met the victim to apologise on behalf of the church

A man who was sexually assaulted by a Church of England priest has criticised police who he says failed to investigate his complaint.

The victim, from Devon, says he told Devon and Cornwall Police about Vickery House's abuse in 2001 - 11 years before an investigation was launched.

Last year the clergyman was jailed for six and a half years for a string of sex offences against boys.

His youngest victim was assaulted in Devon in 1970 at the age of 14.

Encouraged by his wife, the man approached police with his story in 2001. The investigation that led to House's conviction was started by Sussex Police in May 2012.

No apology

"I reached a point when I couldn't function properly as a human being," he told the BBC.

"If it had been dealt with properly at that time I could have dealt with all the issues around that and moved on with my life ten or 15 years ago.

"It would have made a huge difference to my children. I also may have saved some other people from being abused.

"I'm disappointed that that there is no hint of an apology for their lack of action."

Devon and Cornwall Police said it had no record of any local investigation relating to the victim, but added: "We do not doubt he spoke to a police officer."

A spokesperson said: "Back in 2001 the way in which police dealt with complaints of historic sexual abuse was very different and not at all reflective of today's policing."

The victim has now asked a lawyer to help him make a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Another opportunity for the police to investigate Vickery House was missed when he was implicated in an investigation of former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball in 1993.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: "The bulk of all intelligence relating to Vickery House came from the Sussex area where he was convicted in October 2015.

"We do not know the level of information presented to police in Devon in 2001, but what is clear is that evidence from other victims was later proven to show Vickery House as a dangerous individual who had abused a number of boys he had contact with during their formative years.

"Should any such allegation have been made now, the measures in place to support victims and encourage them to come forward and talk about historic abuse are far greater," he added.

Last month, the Bishop of Exeter met the Devon victim to apologise in person on behalf of the church.

The Right Reverend Robert Atwell said: "I wanted to extend to him an unreserved apology for what had happened to him."


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