Child abuse survivor dies of cancer months after Church of Ireland pays settlement

Premier Christian News [London, England]

January 7, 2024

A former police officer, Eddie Gorman, who battled the Church of Ireland over childhood abuse suffered at the hands of a minister, has passed away at the age of 60 after a brief battle with bowel cancer.

Eddie Gorman, an ex-RUC officer, peacefully passed away at his Coleraine home on Thursday.

During the 1970s, Mr. Gorman was sexually abused by Reverend Bill Neely at Mount Merrion Church in east Belfast and also at the scouts, where he volunteered.

He said Neely began to prey on him around 1973 when he joined the Scouts at the church, with the minister regularly making him and another boy perform sex acts on one another.

His landmark case against the Church of Ireland, one of the first of its kind, involved his lawyers issuing a writ for damages against the Diocese of Down and Dromore regarding the handling of abuse claims.

In December, the Church of Ireland settled out of court for £100,000 as a response to Gorman’s case.

Eddie, who had been diagnosed with bowel cancer the previous winter, described the settlement as a “bittersweet pill to swallow.”

His solicitor, Kevin Winters, highlighted the decades-long suppression of Eddie’s complaints by both the police and the church.

Winters emphasized that Eddie’s bravery in coming forward not only exposed the truth about Neely’s abuse within the Church of Ireland but also contributed to dispelling the notion that historic abuse allegations in Ireland were exclusive to the Catholic Church.

Eddie Gorman’s described as playing a crucial role in the Historical Clerical Church Abuse Working Group, providing moving and emotional testimony about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Neely.

According to Winters, through his powerful narrative, Eddie Gorman exhibited leadership, gave encouragement, and provided a voice for others who had experienced similar traumas.

Eddie is survived by his partner, his children Kathy and Philip, grandchildren Keegan, Rebecca and Thomas as well as his brother Jim.