CAMPAIGNERS have called for church leaders, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to “hang their heads in shame” after the former Bishop of Lewes was poised to spend less than a month in prison for each of his victims.

The 32 month sentence handed down by a judge to Peter Ball was branded “a failure to do justice” as the 83-year-old is expected to serve half of that.

Ball was sentenced for two individual counts of indecent assaults, and one count of misconduct in a public office which encompassed acts of “debasement” perpetrated on sixteen young men who had come to his home seeking spiritual enlightenment.

After the sentencing a former Archbishop of Canterbury was forced to deny that his involvement in the case in the 1990s amounted to a “cover-up”.

Victims are threatening to sue the church for over a quarter of a million pounds over the case, which was first brought to light in 1992.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury has opened an internal investigation into the Church’s handling of the case.

Phil Johnson, whose claim of indecent assault against Ball continues to lie on file, told The Argus: “It doesn’t seem a very just sentence, he’ll only serve one month per victim.

”I don’t think it compares in any way with the 30 years of emotional pain and suffering the victims have had.”

In 1993 the CPS agreed to issue Ball with a caution, rather than prosecute, after the personal intervention of then-Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.

In a statement, Lord Carey vouchsafed his “regret” that victims had been dealt with inadequately, adding: “Allegations by some that my actions amounted to a cover-up or collusion with the abuser, are wrong.”

He said that safeguarding procedures had improved since the 90s, but acknowledged that “in the past we failed many victims and allowed abusers to flourish in ministry”.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, has campaigned for justice for victims of clerical sexual abuse at the UN.

He said: “The Church, the Police and CPS should hang their heads in shame at the time this has taken to come to a conviction.

“It is not just a failure to do justice.

“It is the most disgraceful abuse of process I have ever seen. They have denied justice to both Ball and the victims, heartlessly compounding the abuse they have suffered.”

Six victims have instructed church lawyers of their intention to sue for damages, citing vicarious responsibility.

Such claims are typically awarded up to £60,000 depending on the severity of the abuse, and lawyers for the victims said they hoped to settle out of court, a claim which could cost the church more than£300,000.

While Bishop of Lewes in the 1980s he convinced young men taking part in the “Give a Year for Christ” scheme to pray naked at his altar and submit to beatings for his sexual gratification.

Mr Justice Wilkie said: "What you did was the antithesis of what was expected of someone holding your office."

Ball previously received letters of support from prominent establishment figures including an unnamed member of the royal family.

Bishop Paul Butler, lead bishop on Safeguarding for the Church of England, said: “We apologise unreservedly to those survivors of Peter Ball’s abuse and pay tribute to their bravery.”