Abuse survivor calls for senior bishops to resign over failures

A SURVIVOR of clergy sexual abuse is calling for the resignation of the Archbishop John Sentamu and Bishop of Oxford Dr Steven Croft.

Matthew Ineson made his call after the Church of England National Safeguarding Team issued a statement to clarify details of a case of rape which Ineson claimed was disclosed to the bishops in 2013.

The statement explained that Matthew Ineson’s case has been taken ‘very seriously’ since the disclosure of the ‘harrowing’ rape heclaimed to have suffered as a teenager came to their attention.

The statement confirms that the Archbishop of York responded to a letter he received from Mr Ineson in June 2013, in which Ineson enclosed a copy of a letter to him from the then Bishop of Sheffield (Dr Croft) and his own response to the Bishop.

“The Archbishop did not fail to act on any disclosure made,” the statement adds, explaining that, as the Diocesan Bishop has responsibility for matters such as these in their diocese, this is a matter for the Diocesan Bishop to inform the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.

“For this reason, the Archbishop acknowledged Matthew Ineson’s letter and assured him of his prayers.”

The statement added that the complaints are being investigated but that the Core Group,‘which is the Church’s response to any allegations of abuse, has already decided that an independent review of the case will be commissioned’.

But Ineson said that the letter he sent to John Sentamu was a copy of a letter he had sent to Bishop Steven Croft, dated 1 June 2013, which contained details of his sexual abuse. He said he also ‘complained bitterly of the failure to act on my disclosures by Bishop Steven Croft and Bishop Peter Burrows’.

“By this time Steven Croft had ignored three disclosures from me, two by telephone and this letter of 1st June,” claims Ineson in his statement.

It continues: “John Sentamu replied saying he had read the letter and assured me of his prayers and best wishes through this testing time. Beyond that I was not offered any care, no support was given, I was not encouraged to report my abuse to the police nor was my disclosure(s) passed to the relevant church safeguarding officer or any other authority by him.”

Ineson points out that in the statement by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team ‘it is claimed that the Archbishop did not fail to act on any disclosure made, because the responsibility to respond and act lay with the diocesan bishop, namely Steven Croft’.

“The National Safeguarding Team are clearly stating here that Steven Croft should have acted,”he adds.

He points out that his alleged perpetrator, Trevor Devamanikkan,was charged in May 2017 with six serious charges of sexual abuse against Ineson. However, he committed suicide before the case could come to court.

“Steven Croft has admitted on several occasions that I disclosed my abuse to him in the media over the past 16 months. I have pursued the complaint against Steven Croft’s failures several times with the Church, who have blocked any attempt at investigation into his failures.

“The National Safeguarding Team now acknowledge those failures and I call on Steven Croft to resign with immediate effect,” said Ineson.

He also calls on Archbishop Sentamu to resign with immediate effect ‘for failing to act on my disclosure to him’.

He claims that ‘both bishops neglected their duties regarding safeguarding and John Sentamu neglected his duties by also not exercising his authority in terms of discipline over Steven Croft or Peter Burrows’.

“He is in effect passing the buck and saying ‘not my job’. Is it now the case that clergy, even bishops and archbishops, can ignore disclosures of abuse by simply saying ‘not my job’? There was also a complete lack of pastoral care by both of them,” Ineson claimed.

Healso challenges the assertion that the National Safeguarding Team did not know that Trevor Devamanikkam had previously attempted to take his own life before his suicide.