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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

On the face of it, the man who sexually abused Lewis was a trustworthy person.

He was a teacher and a leader in a group connected with the church that Lewis and his parents attended.

Paul was a single man in his 40s, and Lewis’s father had known him for decades. Lewis comments that Paul did not seem to have any friends, but says he and his brothers had a close bond with Paul and they called him ‘Uncle’. He was a leader in a local branch of the Boys’ Brigade linked to the church the family attended.

When Lewis was in his early teens, he went with his family on a church trip to Europe. He was sitting with Paul, when the man began tickling his stomach, and then moved to ‘playing around’ with his genitals. Even when Lewis’s parents joined them, Paul continued touching Lewis under the table. 

Not long after this incident, his parents arranged for Paul to tutor Lewis for his exams. The lessons took place at the family home, and Paul continued to sexually abuse Lewis. 

Lewis explains how this confused him. On the one hand he trusted Paul, but he started realising there was something very wrong about what the teacher was doing. 

As he got older, he came to realise that Paul was never his friend at all. When he was in his 20s, he told a friend, then his parents, that Paul had sexually abused him. He later reported it to a safeguarding officer in the church.

Paul was charged with sexual abuse on multiple occasions. He pleaded guilty which meant that Lewis did not have to give evidence in court. 

Lewis feels that the sentence Paul received was too lenient. Looking back, he thinks that Paul’s behaviour in the Boys’ Brigade should have been challenged. He particularly remembers him acting inappropriately with children in the swimming pool, and says that he was a bully.

At the time, he did not feel he could tell anyone at school about the abuse. He says he did not think they would be interested because it wasn’t happening on their premises, and he was too scared to report the abuse to his parents as he imagined the ‘explosion’ which would occur if he did.

Lewis believes the church was reprimanded by the local authority for not acting on complaints that were made against Paul. 

He feels the abuse had a devastating impact on his parents as well as on himself. The church pastor told his parents that he is gay and Lewis says his parents blamed the abuse as the ‘cause’ of this. Homosexuality is regarded as a sin in his church.

Lewis has suffered from confusion about his sexuality, anxiety and depression. 

He would like to see better information for children and young people about services available to them. He says organisations should have effective safeguarding and should clearly display information about protective services on their premises.

Lewis attended community counselling, and would like to access more specialist counselling in the future. 

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