Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Jerry

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Jerry was abused as a teenager by a family friend, Vince, who was closely associated with the church.

The abuse continued for a few months until Jerry's father was warned about Vince by someone in the church. Soon after, Vince transferred to another parish. Jerry has often wondered if this was because of the abuse.

Jerry says the abuse affected him as a teenager, but he then ‘buried’ it for a long time. As an adult he got a good job and met his wife, to whom he is still happily married.

When he attended therapy for unrelated difficulties in his family life, he told the therapist what had happened to him.

Around the same time, Jerry discovered on social media that Vince was working with children at a school. He says he felt compelled to do something, so he wrote a number of times to the headmaster at the school but received no response from him.

After a few months, he was surprised to receive a message from Vince through social media. Jerry suspects the headmaster had told Vince that someone had made allegations against him. He replied to Vince asking for an apology but heard nothing back.

Jerry decided at this point to make a formal complaint to the police. The officer who interviewed him announced that he was a committed Christian which, Jerry says, given the circumstances, made him feel uncomfortable.

He was the only complainant at this stage and the police found no evidence to support his account and were unable to proceed with the case. However, Jerry says he was in no doubt that the police believed him.

Throughout this time, Vince was a preacher in the local church and also the church representative in a local school.

Knowing that Vince was still working in a position of trust with children, Jerry continued to feel very concerned. He says he could not continue to live with the thought of his abuser having access to children, and he wrote to a senior church leader.

The child protection officer in the local diocese contacted him and told him she was aware of the complaint. Vince was subsequently interviewed and denied everything.

He kept his licence to preach and continued working at the school. At the end of Jerry’s final conversation with the child protection officer, she said ‘Let the healing begin’.

Reports of the church’s public response to abuse prompted Jerry to write again to another senior church leader. He did not receive a reply.

Some time later, the police contacted Jerry to tell him that another complainant had come forward. After this, Vince was charged with an extensive list of sexual abuse against children over many years.

The case went to court and the jury found Vince guilty on multiple charges. There was substantial evidence, some of which Jerry had provided.

Immediately after the court case, the church made a statement to the press, offering sympathy to the victims and a public apology, but Jerry said they have never apologised to him.

He has not heard from the school either, and feels he was treated abysmally by the headmaster, causing him an enormous amount of pain and anguish. He believes that public statements made by the church are ‘window dressing and a sham’.

In spite of his experiences, Jerry feels he has a successful life, a loving family and an accomplished career. He wants to share his experience with the Truth Project to try and make those in authority face up to their failings.

He also hopes his account will resonate with some victims and survivors who are not able to come forward to share what happened to them.

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