The Church of England has ordered an independent review into its handling of a sexual abuse case which resulted in four bishops and an archbishop being accused of failing to respond properly to a victim’s disclosure of sexual abuse.
Matthew Ineson, who has waived his right to anonymity, claims he was 16 years old when he was raped by Vicar Trevor Devamanikkam.
Ineson claims that he disclosed the abuse to four bishops and the archbishop of York in 2012 and 2013 but his allegation were ignored.
Ineson, who was ordained as a priest in his 20s, disclosed the alleged sexual abuse, which occurred in the 1980s, to Peter Burrows, the bishop of Doncaster; Steven Croft, who at the time was bishop of Sheffield and is now bishop of Oxford; and Martyn Snow, the then archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham and now bishop of Leicester but nothing came of his reports.
Determined to seek justice, Ineson lodged a formal complaint against the bishops and archbishop in 2016, for misconduct, for allegedly failing to act on his disclosures. Inesons’s complaint was initially dismissed by the church, which cited a one-year time limit for such complaints.
Ineson, undeterred in his quest to seek justice, reported the sexual abuse to the police and charges were brought against Devamanikkam, however in June 2017, the day before he was due to appear in court on 3 counts of buggery and 3 counts of indecent assault, Devamanikkam killed himself.
In 2017, Ineson condemned the church over its shortcomings in dealing with cases of sexual abuse stating that:
“The Church of England has made me fight at every step to try to achieve both justice and the further prevention of abuse by my abuser. By doing this, you have added to my abuse. The bishops have actively colluded together to attempt to ignore, discredit and get rid of me.”
Earlier this year, Archbishop John Sentamu admitted that the church’s treatment of Ineson had been “shabby and shambolic” but denied he had made personal mistakes in the case.
The Church of England has now announced on Friday that it had appointed Jane Humphreys, a safeguarding consultant, with more than 30 years experience, to review its handling of the allegations made by Ineson relating to Devamanikkam.
Ineson has voiced his concerns over the investigation stating:
“I don’t believe the church should be appointing anyone to investigate it – it should be truly independent, which it isn’t. The church, the ones who are being investigated, are trying to control the whole thing. The church is steam rollering ahead without regard to anybody including the victim. I’d very much welcome a genuinely independent review but this is not the way to do it. I can’t say whether I’ll cooperate with the process until I know more.”
The Church of England said it hoped the review would be completed and published next year.
Jordans Solicitors represent clients who have suffered child sexual abuse.
We have a dedicated team of highly specialist lawyer who can ensure your claim is handled sensitively, enabling you to secure the best outcome from those responsible for your traumatic experiences. If you would like help with pursuing a claim, please make contact with us by e-mail, telephone on our freephone number 0330 300 1103 or by completing a request call back form.