Theo Hobson

How ‘damning’ is the report into the Church of England’s handling of sex abuse?

How ‘damning’ is the report into the Church of England’s handling of sex abuse?
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A ‘damning’ report has been published into the Church of England’s handling of a particular abuse case. Except it’s not very damning.

In 1976 a 16-year old was abused by a priest called Garth Moore – an attempted rape took place. He kept quiet about it for a couple of years, then told various priests about it over the next few decades, including some bishops. Moore died in 1990. The Church did nothing about his claims until 2014, when it began an inquiry that led to him receiving some compensation last year.

The report says that the Church was at fault for failing to advise him to report it to the police, and for failing to launch its own investigation earlier. But there is no allegation that the Church dissuaded the victim from pressing charges. It was his decision, whether or not to go to the police while his abuser lived. If he chose not to, there was little that the Church could do. It couldn’t really have been expected to launch its own detailed investigations into such an allegation. It was a matter for the police.

So I’m not sure I understand what the Church did wrong. It seems its main fault was taking so long to pay him compensation. But of course there is no ‘right’ to such compensation, which is a matter of public relations crossed with charity.