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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Greg came from a very ‘church going’ background. His family moved to a new house in a small town and became involved with the clergy at the church.

When a new priest, Ken, joined their church, Greg's parents took him under their wing. Ken was a regular visitor and often ate with the family.

The abuse began when Greg, who was a teenager at the time, went to Ken’s house one day to deliver some cakes from his mother. He found Ken masturbating, and he continued to do this in Greg’s presence. 

Because he aspired to be a priest himself at that time, Greg was closely involved in the church. Ken would invite him to his house and Greg felt unable to refuse.

He says that sexual activity continued over several years and became more serious over time. Ken continued to attend the family home but gave nothing away.

Greg describes how he began to feel isolated, withdrawn and very lonely. He had thoughts about killing himself. When Ken eventually saw the effect that the abuse was having, he stopped for a while but started again about a month later.

Greg says he felt that Ken had power over him. He says the abuse was ‘screwing with his head’. He had thought he wanted to become a priest, but he was a child, being raped in a vicarage, in a room decked with crucifixes and religious icons.

Greg says he hoped he could forget about the abuse after it stopped, but he started drinking heavily. Some years ago, he began to think about bringing Ken to justice and he tried to find him.

He describes feeling like an ‘emotional wreck’. He found a church website where people could report abuse. Many statements of abuse seemed to be taken seriously with action taken. He completed a form but did not hear anything back.

Some time later, after watching a television programme about abuse in the Catholic church in Ireland, Greg contacted a charity helpline number and was put in touch with a solicitor who helped him report the abuse to the police.

Greg says the police had problems tracing Ken, and the church initially refused to give his address or release their files.

Eventually Greg did see the files and it appeared that when Ken had moved to another church, he had abused other boys who had subsequently spoken out.

Greg believes no action was taken by the church, and Ken later retired on ill health grounds and moved to live in a church residence.

Greg says he also saw letters between Ken and senior church leaders in which Ken said that he still felt he had a vocation and wanted to work. The reply indicated that Ken had nothing to worry about and information about the abuse was in a ‘separate’ file.

Greg recalls that eventually Ken was arrested and interviewed, but the Crown Prosecution Service did not prosecute.

After Ken’s death, Greg says he felt frustrated that he never had the chance to take his abuser to court. The police advised Greg that he had enough evidence to take civil action against the church and he did this.

He is clear that he did not go through the civil process for financial gain, but because he felt the church’s reaction had destroyed his life. The church initially fought the case, but it was settled.

Greg feels there was a cover-up by the church and it makes him feel worse that no one did anything to stop further abuse. He wants the church to take these things seriously in the future. He feels that the church's attitude made him made him suffer over and over again.

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