Joseph Quigley: Birmingham Archdiocese saw abusive priest as ‘struggling’

BBC [London, England]

July 20, 2022

A priest who assaulted children was seen by his Archdiocese as “struggling” rather than abusive, a report found.

Joseph Quigley, a former Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, was jailed last year.

A report by Barnado’s found the church was aware of concerns but did not listen to victims, challenge his behaviour or deal with complaints.

The authors made 18 recommendations which the Archdiocese accepted in full. It apologised for its failures.

The report said concerns had been raised about Quigley, from Staffordshire, as early as 1990.

There was evidence the church was aware of an “immoral relationship” while he was working in Warwickshire but it was not considered a safeguarding issue because the boy was 16.

“The view of [Quigley’s] behaviour, being that of a Catholic priest who had a ‘relationship’ with another adult male, rather than an abuser of an adolescent boy, persisted without any challenge,” the report said.

He was sent to the US for therapy in 2008 and the report authors said they were struck by how Quigley was treated “almost as if he were a patient with mental health needs or was a recovering alcoholic”.

The Archdiocese “focused to a considerable extent on his needs as a struggling priest who needed help and support to understand his behaviour, rather than as an abusive perpetrator who used his revered position to groom and sexually abuse.

It went on: “There was very little to suggest his abusive behaviours, the impact of his actions on others, the need for reparation, or any discussions about risks he presented or preventative measures to reduce those risks, were in any way explored or addressed.”

“No action” was taken to share concerns or seek advice from safeguarding agencies, the report said, adding: “As far as we could ascertain there was no risk assessment or further consideration of what these continued risks might mean for those with whom [Quigley] came into contact.”

His status as a revered priest allowed the abuse to continue for years. The report said that without the intervention of one of his victim’s therapists in 2018, it was possible his behaviour would never have been brought to light.

Quigley was convicted of multiple counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child, sexual assault, child cruelty, and false imprisonment.

In 2019, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse found that if Birmingham’s Archdiocese focussed less on its reputation, children could have been spared from abuse.

It followed more than 130 allegations of abuse against 78 individuals associated with the church.

Barnardo’s found there had been “evidence of some welcome changes” since that report but made 18 recommendations for further improvements.

Responding to the findings, the Archdiocese said it had “learnt much from this case and the report and we are committed to improving our standards and processes”.

“I am deeply sorry for what happened to those who have been harmed by Joseph Quigley,” Archbishop Bernard Longley said.

“I welcome the report and the reflection that will come from this. There is work that still needs to be carried forward and that’s something which lies upon my shoulders.

“I can only apologise to them on behalf of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, and I do so unreservedly.”