BISHOP George Bell’s behaviour came as a great shock to all who looked up to him.
I do not believe that Bishop Warner would have made it public unless the evidence was overwhelming.
Bell’s inability to defend himself has to be balanced by the victim’s lack of opportunity to confront him during his lifetime.
I cannot imagine that he or she would have got anywhere with either the Church, the police or perhaps even their own family at the time, being just a child.
Is there any evidence that the Bishop made any attempt at confession or reconciliation before he died? Were there other victims?
People do not have the same legal rights after their death. Bishop Bell cannot be affected as he might have been if he were still alive.
It is only his reputation that has suffered, hard as that judgement may be.
His victim still suffers, and has the added burden of still not being fully believed.
I was connected to a case where a tribunal had to determine the veracity of a complainant, a teenager subjected to abuse by a professional.
She was not believed and I cannot imagine how she suffered during the process.
My continuing guilt is that I supported the abuser with a character reference and was persuaded , as was the tribunal, that the girl was mentally unstable.
Subsequent proceedings proved her case but by then she must have been dreadfully damaged.
Bishop Peter Ball, calling on the great and the good for support, put his victims through hell rather than confess.
Bishop Kemp just did nothing. The diocese of Chichester has a foul record, going back many years and it is only right that now everything should be seen to be done to clean out the stable.
Every few weeks, it seems, another abusive priest is in the news but let’s hope we are coming to the end of it all.
Power and reputation can be formidable opponents and every time they trump the truth there remains a residue of rot.
Bell’s reputation will come back into balance , given time.
Nearly all great men have shadows and with the perspective of years they come to be seen in the round.
My admiration for Bell’s achievements has not changed. The present, however belongs to the victim.