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Sex crime report "too little, too late"
Sexual abuse victims say a decision to publish a report into the crimes of a Cathedral steward ten years after it was compiled is “too little, too late”.
Support groups claim victims were denied justice because recommendations in the 2004 report, produced by the Diocese of Chichester in the wake of the conviction of serial offender Terence Banks, were not followed up.
Banks, who became head steward at Chichester Cathedral, was convicted in 2001 for 32 sexual offences over 29 years against 12 boys as young as 11.
The Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner said the report was published to “shed light on past events, to aid learning, build trust and foster openness”.
The report followed an investigation by Sussex Police and was commissioned by the former Bishop of Chichester, The Rt Rev Dr John Hind.
It reveals that, despite being banned from the Prebendal cathedral school in Chichester in the 1970s, Banks still had contact with pupils.
He took boys out to tea, bought them presents and meals and then at his homes in Canon Lane in Chichester and London he would ply boys with alcohol and show them pornographic videos.
The report said the “severe” abuse left victims struggling with behaviour, damaged their education and left them with long term emotional and mental health problems, including substance misuse.
Eastbourne-based Phil Johnson, of the Minister and Clergy Sexual Assault Survivors group and an abuse victim of the Rev Ray Cotton in the 1970s and 1980s, said church leaders only decided to publish after years of calls from victims.
He said the report highlights five perpetrators, but only three have been brought to justice so far.
Mr Johnson said recommendations about the support victims should receive have not been implemented and a lack of support led to an alleged victim of the former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball, who will stand trial next month, to commit suicide.
Mr Johnson said: “Victims have been denied justice over that ten year period.”
Dr Warner said: “As Christians we are profoundly ashamed of abuse that has happened in church.
“It is our sincere hope that those affected by these crimes will regard the publication of the report as a positive step.”
For support contact Diocese of Chichester Safeguarding Team members at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01273 425792 or 07500 771210, email email@example.com, call 07881 580310 or directly contact the Saturn Centre in Crawley on 01293 600469.