'Those told of abuse must report it,' says Workington MP
By Phil Coleman
News & Star
March 15, 2020
ANY person in a position of responsibility who is told about the sexual abuse of a child should report it to the police, says Workington MP Mark Jenkinson.
The politician spoke out after the News & Star reported on the cases of two Allerdale men whose abusers were clergymen - one with the Catholic Church and the other with the Church of England - and both were allowed to continue working after they confessed their paedophilia.
Neither was reported to the police by their church bosses.
One was a victim of former Carlisle Cathedral canon Ronald Johns and he said he was appalled to learn about the case of former Workington priest Peter Turner, who was allowed to continue his 'ministry' in Workington after telling his abbot he had abused a child.
Johns' victim spoke to the News & Star about the traumatic legacy of the abuse he suffered.
In 2012, when Johns was jailed for abusing three boys, it emerged that the Bishop of Carlisle in 1993 - the Right Reverend Ian Harland - failed to report Johns to the police after the canon admitted what he had done to one child. Instead, the Bishop sent Johns to work in Caldbeck.
He was allowed to continue living and working there as a priest for the following six years before he was finally charged.
The News & Star has learned that there is currently no specific criminal offence of failing to report the sexual abuse of a child - a situation that Johns' victim said should not be allowed to persist.
Mr Jenkinson said: "For anyone in a position of responsibility around vulnerable people - whether children or adults - there's a moral obligation.
"If you are told about the sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult, there absolutely should be an obligation to report it.
"I'm sure that the majority of people who were in that position would say that."
Mr Jenkinson said he would be happy to investigate the issue further, seeking clarity from the relevant government department.
He also offered to do what he could to work with the victim of Ronald Johns to ensure that such a situation can not be repeated.
Johns, who was 75 when he was prosecuted, was jailed after he admitted a string of sex crimes carried out against three boys over eight years.
In the other clerical abuse case, The Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris, told 80-year-old Peter Turner - formerly known as Father Gregory Carroll - that he had brought evil into the world through his depravity. Turner sexually abused two boys after he was forced to leave Ampleforth College, in North Yorkshire, and sent to continue his clerical career at Our Lady and St Michael's Roman Catholic Church in Workington.