Former bishop of Chester ‘almost certainly a prolific abuser of children’
A lengthy police investigation has revealed that Victor Whitsey, the former Anglican Bishop of Chester, ‘was almost certainly a prolific abuser of children.’ according to a legal firm representing alleged victims.
Whitsey, who died in 1987 at the age of 71, served as Bishop of Chester from 1974 to 1981.
Before that he had been Bishop of Hereford and earlier worked as a parish priest in Chorley, South Ribble and Bolton.
A number of men and women have come forward to describe how, as children, they were sexually abused by Whitsey.
A police investigation has revealed that others in the Church may have been aware of Whitsey’s involvement in child abuse whilst he was still working as a Bishop, law firm Slater and Gordon has said.
It is understood that the Church of England may shortly be announcing an independent review into the case.
Earlier this year the Church of England apologised for the alleged physical and sexual abuse on children and young men by a former colleague of the Archbishop of Canterbury, following a Channel 4 News investigation.
Cheshire Police has issued a statement today and published the findings of an investigation launched in July 2016 into the allegations made against the former Bishop.
Operation Coverage focused on allegations made against Whitsey which relate to 13 victims, 5 male and 8 female.
Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey said:
“The abuse is alleged to have taken place whilst the Bishop was living and working in Chester and one incident is reported to have taken place outside of the county.
An investigation was launched by Cheshire Constabulary in July 2016 following a report from the Diocese of Chester Safeguarding Officer. Further disclosures were made as part of the investigation, which spanned a period of 13 months.
Allegations of this nature are taken extremely seriously. The police have a duty to carry out a proportionate investigation into all allegations of sexual abuse – even if the alleged offences took place many years ago and the person being accused has since died.
Following a thorough investigation and taking into account all of the information available, it has been established that, if Bishop Whitsey were alive today, as part of the investigation process he would have been spoken to by police. This would have been in order to outline the details of the allegations made and to provide him with an opportunity to offer an account of events.
It is important to remember that this is not an indication of guilt – this is a key part of the investigation process and this happens regularly as part of a case to obtain an account whether this leads to further action or not. It is not the role of the police to judge whether someone is guilty or innocent.”
Anyone who is a victim of sexual abuse or knows of someone who is can contact Cheshire Police on 101. Information can also be left anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111. You can also seek support from the NSPCC via their national helpline on 0808 800 5000.
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