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John Stillwell/PA Wire
UK News

Bishop Peter Ball's 'charm and charisma' enabled him to avoid conviction

by Cara Bentley

Bishop Peter Ball was the suffragan Bishop of Lewes from 1977 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992. He also founded a monastic community with his twin brother which he lead for 20 years.

He was convicted of two offences of indecent assault in 2017 but an inquiry into why it took this long suggested his character allowed him to avoid conviction.

The inquiry into allegations against Ball found that of the 42 dioceses in England, the Diocese of Chichester, where Ball worked, received the most reports of child sexual abuse, with 18 convictions in 50 years.

The inquiry said the diocese had a culture of "prioritising reputation" among senior clergy, who had a "permissive attitude towards some perpetrators, even when they had been convicted".

Peter Ball was found to have abused his position as Bishop of Gloucester to deliberately manipulate vulnerable teenagers for his own sexual gratification, which included naked praying, masturbation and beating for his own pleasure.

The Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, Lord George Carey, is said to have had more compassion towards Peter Ball than to the victims.

The inquiry also found that the Church of England's response was marked by secrecy, skirting round the truth and avoiding reporting alleged crimes and that their apology "remains unconvincing".
Premier has asked the Diocese of Chichester for its response to the inquiry's findings.

The Diocese of Chichester issued the following statement today in response to the publication of the interim report on IICA:

"We welcome the publication of the IICSA report on the diocese of Chichester.  We take this report very seriously and will now take time to assimilate and digest its detailed findings.

"We are deeply ashamed of the obvious failures outlined in it and apologise unreservedly for the terrible damage that has been done to people's lives in so many ways.

"We are committed to doing all we can to ensure safety and respect for all vulnerable people, especially children, in our churches and church institutions and organisations. 

"Although we are encouraged by the acknowledgement from IICSA of the progressive work the diocese has undertaking over the past few years to improve our safeguarding practices, we must never be complacent. We will continue to work on the development of a different culture in safeguarding, in our accountability, and in ensuring that we always respond appropriately and well to any allegation or report of abuse."

The Church of England's lead bishop on safeguarding, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Rt. Rev Peter Hancock, said: "Whilst the report acknowledges the progress the Church has made in safeguarding, we recognise that our work must continue at pace in order that we can ensure that the Church is as safe as possible for all.

"We are committed to working to bring in specific changes that will help us better protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual and all other forms of abuse. If anyone is affected by today's report I would urge them to come forward."

He added that he was grateful for the courage of the survivors who contributed to the hearings and thankful for the inquiry's recommendations. 

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