‘The Church of England is facing more than 3,000 complaints over sex abuse. The total number of ‘concerns or allegations’ had reached 3,300 by 2016.
The figures do not distinguish new complaints from longstanding ones, but almost all involved the treatment of children, young people or vulnerable adults. If even a proportion were upheld the Church would have to pay millions in compensation.
One recent compensation payment in an unproven and heavily-disputed case of abuse alleged against long-dead Bishop of Chichester George Bell amounted to £15,000. Matching that sum in every complaint now facing the Church would cost almost £50million.
Despite the growing controversy over false allegations, bishops will continue to call those who make claims of sex abuse ‘victims’ and ‘survivors’. But they say this ‘does not presuppose that any allegation will be substantiated’.
Details of the abuse complaints were prepared for bishops and will be given today to the General Synod, the Church’s parliament. The disclosure follows difficult months for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and colleagues over a series of damaging sex abuse scandals.
They include the case of former bishop Peter Ball, jailed for 32 months in 2015 for sex abuse against boys over three decades. An independent inquiry last summer said the Church had failed to protect boys and then concealed evidence of Ball’s crimes. Most recently, Archbishop Welby has been criticised for his handling of the George Bell case.’