Bishop Peter Ball:Time for the Church of England to take a lead on stamping out child sex abuse

bishop peter ball

Bishop Peter Ball at his trial . Pic Credit: BBC

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This week was a torrid week for the Church of England and very embarrassing week for the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse reran the scandal of  former Bishop Peter Ball, a convicted sex offender who preyed on young men. He jailed in 2015 for 32 months for offences against 18 teenagers and men.

The case which I wrote about a year ago here  was a classic Establishment cover up where a lively and personable bishop lead a double life which was well exposed last year by Dame Moira Gibb in her investigation into the scandal. As I said last year :

“Peter Ball comes out of this report as a manipulative, sadomasochistic  predator who appears to have used every trick to entice young men from public schoolboys to priests and damaged and vulnerable youths coming to the Church  for his own sexual  gratification.”

Let it not be forgotten that as a result of his activities a young man, Neil Todd, who had first accused him in 1993  of abusing him in when he was 17 killed himself in 2012 when  Sussex Police re-opened an investigation when he was Bishop of Lewes.

As last year’s report revealed how he wanted to whip Neil Todd who was only saved by worried staff at the Bishop’s house who sent him away. He also got youths to strip off in the chapel so they could pray together in the nude and even used a ceremony to anoint a youth’s penis in some bizarre religious rite.

Now it appears while all this was going on Peter Ball could rely on the support of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and Prince Charles, who were both subject to a very active campaign from the former bishop and his twin brother saying it was a   “vendetta ” against  him and all the claims were false.

Prince Charles letters reveal frankly he was duped by the bishop. – a man he had known for 20 years. In the letters between Prince Charles and the Bishop, read to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Ball spoke of a “malicious campaign” against him and “harassment” by “fraudulent” accusers.

In a letter to Ball in 1995, the prince said: “I wish I could do more. I feel so desperately strong about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you.” In 1997, the prince wrote a letter in which he described an apparent accuser as a “ghastly man… up to his dastardly tricks again”.

In the written submission, read by the counsel to the inquiry Fiona Scolding,

“I first became aware of Peter Ball during the 1980s. He was later appointed Bishop of Gloucester when he became my local diocesan bishop.Peter Ball told me he had been involved in some sort of ‘indiscretion’ which prompted his resignation as my local bishop.

“He emphasised that one individual that I now understand to be Mr Neil Todd had made a complaint to the police, that the police had investigated the matter, and the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to take no action.

“That sequence of events seemed to support Mr Ball’s claim that the complaint emanated from one individual and that individual bore a grudge against him and was persecuting him, that the complaint was false, but that the individual had nonetheless profited from the complaint by selling his story. Events later demonstrated beyond any doubt, to my deep regret, that I, along with many others, has been misled.”

The main point of these disclosures seem  not to be that Prince Charles was to blame but he is probably the highest profile figure to be conned by a manipulative sex offender. He is not the first and won’t be the last

The real blame in my view lies inside the Church of England which needs urgently to take a real stand against child sex abuse – by first ending the conflicting and blurred distinction that requires senior people in the Church to take a pastoral role in looking after priests while at the same time having to handle abuse complaints against them. It needs to segregate the two by handing over complaints to an independent authority.

It also needs to look at mandatory reporting of claims of sexual abuse. It doesn’t have to heed what the government believes over this issue – it can take a stand by itself. In that way the matter will be handed over to the police for a proper investigation to find out the truth.

It does not have to wait the full inquiry’s findings before it takes action either. It owes people like Neil Todd who was vilified and took his own life to create a just and fair system to deal with sexual abuse – so that others do not take their own lives.

17 thoughts on “Bishop Peter Ball:Time for the Church of England to take a lead on stamping out child sex abuse

  1. An excellent article In memory of Neil Todd who as far back as 1993 tried to bring the appalling behaviour of a so called “pillar of society” to justice, sadly to no avail. As a consequence he was driven to suicide and there would be other people no doubt, adversely affected since that period (and historically).
    Independent bodies are of vital importance and should be recognised as the way forward, in an effort to stop such miscarriages of justice.
    Sadly people associated with this sad case, who one would have considered intelligent have unwittingly helped the delay in bringing this man to justice.
    Hopefully lessons will be taken on board and the police become will be more pro-active and not be swayed by a so called cloak of ‘respectability’ !
    Well done David, keep up the exemplary work-against the tide of ignorance and having the tenacity to win the end game – Huge respect for you and your profession .

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  2. This religious sexual repression is shared by most who enter into religious life even today. Chavagnes set up in rural France by a Scotsman is a good example. He set up his cut-price all-boys boarding school to promote traditional Catholic religious education and “knightly virtues” among British males aged 10-18 in 2002, and it is still running.

    It is described by its founder as, “a sort of Eton before the Reformation,” “a training camp for an army”. The man who runs it (with his mother), a staunchly-celibate pennywhistle-playing former Sunday school teacher with a TEFL qualification who wears an old-school dominie’s robes, has devised a curriculum offering the usual academic fare along with some less standard stuff: morris dancing, rabbit-hunting, Gregorian chanting, daily Latin masses.

    But no sex education. The boys are steered towards long-term purity leading to marriage, while on matters onanistic, McDermott commends his own practice: abstinence. The boys get the chance to play a manly game of catch the tail with the founder himself on the school fields.This physical sport consists of two chaps wrestling each other with one arm, while employing the other arm to keep a towel – or “tail” – stuffed down the back of their trousers.

    Boys at Chavagnes also get to kill rabbits with large axes as a means of demonstrating that religious faith is a matter of real life and real death. Punishment cold showers, and punishment runs, are a daily part of the school routine. each year they have a passion play, with one boy tied to a crucifix.

    So you see parting the Church from its ritualised sadism would be a very difficult job.

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    • ^ Interesting, Steve.

      IIRC, Tony Blair had an Opus Dei cabinet minister (a female) in one of his cabinets. I have experience of that particular rather strange cult operating within the Catholic Church, having being subjected to a recruitment attempt by some of their members when I was a first year student at University College Dublin during the early 1990s. I was resistant to their attempts (I was a naïve 17 year old, but not THAT naïve, shall we say. I wasn’t buying Opus Dei’s brand of bullshit even back then – and I was a practising Catholic at the time.)

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  3. Pingback: Bishop Peter Ball:Time for the Church of England to take a lead on stamping out child sex abuse by davidhencke | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE : SUPPORTING FRESH START @FSFtruthjustice

  4. ‘The case which I wrote about a year ago here was a classic Establishment cover up ‘
    FOI 5592 Peter Righton Investigation – refused
    FOI from BBC 2014 re. EGH – previously refused under S23(5)
    DS Terry Shutt Rtd West Mercia Police: Interview 9.7.14 Radio 4 Today.

    Nothing new and so it will ever be

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  5. Extract from Mr Shutts interview wit the BBC:
    ‘and in among all the other documentation, there was a definite link to establishment figures. I can’t say more than that at this point, but there was definitely a link to establishment figures, including senior members of clergy,’

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  6. At Ball’s trial in 2015 it was stated that a member of the royal family, a lord chief justice, JPs, cabinet ministers and public school headmasters—”many dozens” of people—had campaigned to support him in 1993. There were a further 2,000 letters of support. So can I draw the conclusion that all these people where conned by this man or maybe they are naive?
    I heard rumors about Bishop Ball in the early 1980’s and did meet him and members of the order he founded on a number of occasions.. Without doubt you are correct in stating your following observation “Peter Ball comes out of this report as a manipulative, sadomasochistic predator” I am not certain if you ever did meet him, but certainly your words sum him up. He was a great actor, pretending to be a holy man not quite in touch with the modern world.
    I certainly think further research on the Community-of-the-Glorious-Ascension may show further links to the Establishment. I was led to believe the above organisation is a charity and both Ball brothers resigned on the 21st February 1994.

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  7. Thank goodness for the tenacity and honourable journalist that is David Hencke.
    The poor young man Neil Todd, as far back as 1993 tried to get the support and attention, rightly due him from our so called ‘judicial system‘.
    Completely failed by the police he committed suicide. People in higher places swayed the police not to act upon Mr. Todd’s claims.
    The rest is history again thank goodness for the energy and time put into this story to bring it to our attention- sadly too late for Neil and his distraught family.

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  8. I wonder if the monastic community central to a CSA recent trial in East Sussex was the Community-of-the-Glorious-Ascension. I doubt if we will ever find out because the Mi5 officers who gave evidence behind screens were not identified nor was their evidence reported because the Judge discovered a journalist had not left the court whilst these public servants gave their evidence he gave the hack strong advice not to report what he heard and reminded him of the OSA.

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  9. Just checked the old email from the journo – 18/06/2014, 6:25 AM – yep I keep all of them – it was actually linked to the Society of the Sacred Cross. Wonder why 5 were in court ?

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