Abuse Case: Bishop to Visit
March 10, 2013
The leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has offered his personal apologies to the woman whose complaints of abuse by a Jersey church warden were judged to have not been properly handled by the Dean.
On Friday the Bishop of Winchester suspended the Very Reverend Bob Key and announced an immediate investigation into his conduct. The Rt Rev Tim Dakin is due to visit Jersey tomorrow (Monday).
An independent report concluded Mr Key had failed to properly investigate the allegations made by the woman - described as a 26-year-old vulnerable adult.
Jersey comes under the Diocese of Winchester which has clear safeguarding procedures on what to do when allegations of abuse are made against a church worker. The report found that the procedures had not been followed.
Today the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has supported the actions of the Bishop of Winchester and says it is vital that lessons are learned from the case throughout the entire Church of England.
"The Bishop of Winchester's swift, decisive and wholly necessary actions following his receipt of this report are to be commended. I too wish to add my own personal apologies to the young woman who was so badly let down by those she had turned to for help and I wholeheartedly support the investigation that the Bishop has launched. He must receive full cooperation from all involved.
"We cannot place a high enough importance on safeguarding issues and it is vital that lessons are learned from this case, not just in Jersey but throughout the whole of the Church of England. Every day, the vulnerable come to us for shelter, for support and for comfort. Their trust cannot be taken for granted."
The disabled 26-year-old woman had claimed a church warden had abused her, but the independent review found that Mr Key did not properly handle the complaint.
The police investigated the allegation back in 2008.
Now the Church of England says the whole affair raises what it calls "very serious matters" about the Dean's actions.
Prior to the complaint being made there were already concerns about the church warden's behaviour towards women - standing too close to them and touchings them inappropriately..
An independent report commissioned by the Diocese found multiple failings in the way the Dean dealt with things.
In the three years following the complaint, the woman got into trouble with the law, and ended up homeless.
A police investigation into the complaint found there was insufficient evidence to push for a prosecution.
But the review has come forward with a raft of recommendations: All church officers in Jersey need annual safeguarding training; clergy need to keep meticulous records of incidents and an acknowledgement of distress and an apology is key.