England

Archbishop of York and bishops 'failed to act' on rape claim

A cross worn on a chain
Image caption Complaints have been lodged with the Church of England against five Bishops and the Archbishop of York

A priest has accused the Archbishop of York and four bishops of misconduct after they "failed to act" on allegations he was raped by a vicar.

The victim claims no-one responded when he brought the alleged offences to light.

A complaint is being reviewed by the Church of England, his lawyer said.

Clergy representatives said they were unable to comment on the claims published in the Guardian as they formed part of an active investigation.

The priest said all five men were aware of his claims he had been repeatedly raped by a vicar when he was 16 in 1984, but none of them acted.

He said he made the allegations verbally to the Right Reverend Peter Burrows, the Bishop of Doncaster; the Right Reverend Steven Croft, the former Bishop of Sheffield, and now Bishop of Oxford; and the Right Reverend Martyn Snow, a former Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham, and now the Bishop of Leicester, between July 2012 and February 2013.

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu and the Right Reverend Glyn Webster, the Bishop of Beverley, were also made aware when they were copied in to a letter sent to the Rt Rev Croft in June 2013, he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The priest claims Archbishop Sentamu was made aware of the allegations when he was copied in to a letter sent to the former Bishop of Sheffield

His lawyer, David Greenwood, of Switalskis Solicitors, said the priest finally spoke up after a safeguarding issue in his own parish "triggered his memories".

"He reached out for help to the Bishop of Doncaster but found that he got no help, no support and no response," he said.

"He continued to try to elicit a response from the senior people in his diocese but got nothing."

'Duty to respond'

Under the Church of England's clergy disciplinary measures a complaint must be made within one year of the alleged misconduct.

An application for permission to make complaints out of time has been lodged and is being considered by the church.

Mr Greenwood said a complaint had also been made to West Yorkshire Police and the details of the alleged misconduct passed to the Goddard Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

A spokesperson for the archbishop said he had only been sent a copy of the letter and the original recipient of the letter had "a duty to respond and not the archbishop".

'Every co-operation'

A spokesperson for the bishops said that if the complaint went forward "our bishops will make a full response to the various allegations made in due course".

A complaint has also been made by the priest against Roy Williamson, a former bishop of Bradford and now an honorary assistant bishop with the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, that he failed to act at the time of the abuse.

A spokesperson for his diocese said: "We cannot comment during a live investigation except to say that if approached by the authorities we will offer them every co-operation."

West Yorkshire Police said it is investigating a report of a historical serious sexual offence said to have occurred in the Bradford area in the 1980s.

A force representative said: "A crime has been recorded and a 69-year-old man has been spoken to in connection with the inquiry."

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