The UK’s Methodist Church has made a public apology after an investigation uncovered reports of nearly 2,000 alleged abusers – including 914 allegations involving sexual abuse.
An independent inquiry looked at the Church’s response to complaints and allegations dating back to 1950.
General secretary, the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, said abuse was “a deep source of grief and shame to the Church”.
A law firm representing some of the victims welcomed the apology.
‘Worthless and devalued’
The Church commissioned the review – which took three years to complete – because it said it wanted to be open about the past and to have stronger safeguarding procedures in the future.
In total, it identified 1,885 cases – with reported abuse including alleged sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse, as well as cases of neglect.
The report recorded a “case” as an individual perpetrator or alleged perpetrator – but said there were “multiple” responses relating to some individuals.
Allegations of sexual abuse formed the largest number of cases.
Ministers or lay employees were involved in 26% of the alleged cases of abuse, the investigation found.
That figure increased to 33% when Church members, such as worship leaders and local preachers, were also included.
One of the cases concerned the grooming of teenage girls on Facebook, while another involved a minister allegedly making sexual advances to children. Another involved a Methodist youth officer who had indecent images of children on his computer.
One of the abuse survivors who responded to the survey said: “I have learnt that it is impossible to recover from sexual abuse when no-one recognises the seriousness of it. My Church did not want a scandal, my parents did not want a scandal.
“I was left to feel worthless and devalued, while the man was left to get on with his life and for all I know repeat the crime with someone else. I was emotionally and physically devastated.”
Another welcomed the review, saying: “I want to prevent the Church and other people from handling things wrong in the future. I don’t want other girls to suffer like I have.”
Review chairman Jane Stacey, former deputy chief executive of the children’s charity Barnardo’s, called for a culture change in the Church.
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