Posted: Thu 22nd Oct 2020

Report finds Former Bishop of Chester sexually abused 18 children and young people but could be more

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Oct 22nd, 2020

An independent report has concluded the former Bishop of Chester Hubert Victor Whitsey sexually abused at least 18 children and young people over a 15 year period from 1966.

A Betrayal of Trust, the independent report into the Church’s handling of the allegations concerning the late Hubert Victor Whitsey, former Bishop of Chester, has been published today.

The review was carried out by His Hon David Pearl and independent safeguarding consultant Kate Wood.

The Church supported the police in an investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by Whitsey dating from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese.

A public apology was issued in October 2017 following this investigation which included a commitment to a learning lessons review.

A joint statement from David Pearl and Kate Wood says:

The findings of our review will make deeply uncomfortable reading for the Church and we know will be very difficult for victims as they are reminded of their appalling abuse by a senior Church figure in a position of trust.

Their suffering was clearly made worse by the poor response of Church officers at different times when they had the courage to come forward.

We have reached the conclusion that Whitsey sexually abused a large number of children and young persons (both male and female) and vulnerable adults during a period from 1966 until after he had retired which was December 1981. We have identified 18 victims, but we are conscious that there may be more.

It is our opinion that he groomed his victims, and often their families to enable this abuse. He used his position in the Church to abuse both prospective ordinands, and children and young persons, many of whom were particularly vulnerable as they were experiencing personal family difficulties, such as the death or departure of a parent.

Applying the appropriate standard of proof of a balance of probabilities, we have concluded that some of the victims did disclose that they were abused to senior members of the Church, and opportunities were missed right up until 2012.

We hope our recommendations are helpful in the Church learning lessons in responding to allegations of abuse as well as being a reminder that for victims the effects of Whitsey’s abuse are lifelong.

The Bishop of Chester, Mark Tanner said:

There are no words to express my horror and shame as I read this report; and even if there were, words alone are not enough.

Our apologies, which are freely and sincerely given must be backed up by action.

I am grateful to all those who have already helped us start to change, to Judge Pearl for this report, and most of all to the incredibly brave survivors who have spoken up and made us listen.

It is with them and all victims of abuse that my thoughts and prayers rest today as I commit myself and the Diocese of Chester to respond in word and action to this report.

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