Chichester Diocese publishes sex offender report after ten years
A REPORT into how a child sex offender was able to use church networks to abuse boys has been published today (Tuesday, July 8) – ten years after it was completed.
The CARMI report, published by the Diocese of Chichester and Chichester Cathedral, was commissioned following the conviction of Terence Banks in May, 2001, for a string of sex offences.
Banks, referred to as CO1 in the report, was convicted of 32 sexual offences against 12 boys over 29 years.
The report was commissioned by the previous Bishop of Chichester, The Rt Rev’d Dr John Hind following the trial and was completed in 2004.
However, today is the first time it has been published in full.
In a joint statement, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner and the Cathedral Chapter said: “Today, as we publish this report, first and foremost our thoughts are with the survivors and their families.
“The effects of abuse can last a lifetime and the passing of the years may or may not have resulted in any kind of healing.
“As Christians we are profoundly ashamed of abuse that has happened in church or church institutions.
“We extend our most sincere apologies to all survivors and their families, though we know that this can never repair the damage done.”
The review was designed to replicate the standard of Serious Case Reviews at the time and was ‘invaluable in informing and improving safeguarding practices’ in the Cathedral and the Diocese according to a spokeswoman.
“At the time this report was received, Serious Case Reviews were not published in their entirety,” said an introduction written jointly by Dr Warner and the Chapter.
“Our decision to publish this report now has been informed by a number of factors, the most important of which has been our interaction with victims of sexual abuse in churches, who have consistently asked for the full facts to be brought to light, so that lessons are learned and everything possible is done to ensure these awful events are not repeated.
“Sexual offenders operate in the shadows of our communities and exploit any weaknesses in culture and process that exist, as has been shown many times recently in cases across the country in a number of different institutions.
“Reports such as this illuminate those weaknesses and the ways offenders use them, in the hope that future practice is improved and children are better protected.
“It is for this reason we are publishing this report today.”
According to the report, Banks’ abuse left a ‘severe impact’ on his victims, resulting in short-term harm, including ‘disruptive adolescent behaviour and impaired educational attainment’, as well as longer-term emotional and mental health problems.
Dr Warner and the Cathedral Chapter said: “It is our sincere hope that those affected by these crimes will regard the publication of the report as a positive step.
“Our intention is to shed light on past events, to aid learning, build trust and foster openness, not to cause further pain.
“In this way, the publication is intended to reinforce our commitment to a continuous review of our safeguarding practices and procedures.”
The report details Banks’ ‘systematic grooming’ and sexual abuse of young children over nearly 30 years.
The offences started in January, 1971, and continued until shortly before his arrest in spring, 2000.
Banks had a long association with Chichester Cathedral.
He grew up in Canon Lane, living in the treasury.
While working at the BBC during the 1970s and 1980s as a floor manager he lived in Hammersmith but frequently returned to Chichester for weekends and for several weeks over the summer, when he worked for the Festivities.
“He also worked at Chichester Festival Theatre in its earliest years, later becoming a trustee,” said the report.
Following the death of his mother, he was provided with an alternative church-owned property.
Banks’ father was head steward at the cathedral and he took on the role following his father’s death, continuing in the role until his arrest.
He met all but one of his victims through his activities at the cathedral, with his last victim met at another cathedral during the Southern Cathedral’s Festival.
According to the report, the abuse mainly took place at his home, including The Treasury, his flat in London and the house in Chichester. The abuse continued following his marriage.
The report details how Banks was banned from school premises in the 1970s but no records were found regarding the reason for the action and school staff were subsequently unaware of the reasons why.
The only allegation known to have been made in the early 1980s led to the pupil in question being instructed to stop seeing Banks placing ‘all responsibility’ on the child.
Although rumours continued to circulate, there was ‘no knowledge’ of any further allegations in the 1980s.
The report accuses the Anglican community in the Chichester area as being ‘slow to change their child protection responses’ as society became more aware of the need for vigilance when it came to sexual abuse in the 1990s.
According to the report, this was illustrated by:
- An allegation about Banks’ use of pornographic material with a 12-year-old in 1991 being ‘inadequately dealt with’ and not reported to the dean at the time;
- Also in 1991, parents of two victims reported abuse by a member of the Chorister’ Association. The cathedral held its own investigation but did not inform or liaise with police;
- Allowing a third offender to resume his responsibilities as a lay vicar in mixed age activities following his release from prison;
- In March, 2000, allegations about Banks were not reported to diocesan child protection advisor or to the police.
The report adds: “During the investigation and prosecution of CO1 [Banks] the church did not offer pastoral support to victims, partly due to being unaware of their identity and partly because the diocesan child protection advisor had established with police that victim support was providing this resource.”
The report also outlines a second police investigation to discover more details of other possible sex abusers which may have been part of the church community.
It lists two convicted offenders, referred to as CO2 and CO3 and both subsequently jailed, and four suspected perpetrators who have not been named.
The report concludes Banks was part of a ‘relatively closed and influential Chichester Cathedral community’ who, primarily through his role as head steward, was able to ‘access and groom’ his victims.
“His apparent high standing within cathedral society and within the Festivities made him appear trustworthy to parents and children,” it said.
“His ability to provide preferential seating was an added inducement for some parents to be pleased to be friends with him and permit friendship with their child.”
It also concluded children were exposed to alcohol at a young age by Banks with some clergy ‘turning a blind eye’.
It lists a series of reasons for the ‘lack of an appropriate and safe response’ including a mistaken belief that ‘so called malicious gossip’ should be ignored and that ‘pillars of the community’ were always to be trusted.
The full findings and recommendations are available at at chichester.anglican.org/documents/documentation/carmi-report
A statement from the cathedral and diocese said: “Preparations for publishing this report have included identifying sources of support for anyone who is affected.
“Anyone seeking support is invited to speak to Colin Perkins or Morag Keane from the Diocese of Chichester Safeguarding Team, or to directly contact the Saturn Centre in Crawley, which provides a range of services for anyone over the age of 14 who is a victim of sexual abuse.
“The Diocesan Safeguarding Team, Colin Perkins and Morag Keane, can be contacted at Church House, Hove on 01273 421021. The Saturn Centre’s phone number is 01293 600469.”
The CARMI report’s independent author was Edi Carmi.