Richard Scorer, head of the abuse team at Slater and Gordon, speaks to BBC Radio Four about the problem of child abuse within the Anglican church.
Specialist abuse lawyer Richard Scorer joined BBC Radio Four’s ‘Sunday’ programme to discuss why the church still finds it difficult to tackle the issue of child abuse.
Richard, head of the abuse team at Slater and Gordon, was part of a panel of experts taking part in the debate including Anglican priest, Rachel Mann, and Justin Humphreys from the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS).
With more than 15 years’ experience representing victims of abuse, he has also written extensively on the subject and recently spoke on behalf of victims at a hearing of Dame Lowell Goddard’s independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.
The debate included questions on whether the culture of the church makes it difficult for people to report it.
Richard said: “There are two things in particular at the church that come up time and time again; one is a misplaced emphasis within the churches on forgiveness where you get victims of abuse being told what you really need to do here is forgive your abuser, rather than being told what’s happened to you is wrong and we need to deal with that by bringing the perpetrator to book.
“I think the other issue in the churches is the status and authorities of the priesthood and the way, again, that could be misused to protect clerical sex offenders. Victims of abuse feel much more fearful about challenging people they believe have divine authority, but also the status and authority of the priesthood can be used by clerical sex offenders to rationalise their own behaviour.”
Richard also stressed the need for mandatory reporting – where people are required by law to report all suspected cases of child abuse – an issue he has campaigned on for many years.
He added: “We need to move towards a culture of mandatory reporting so that it can be properly investigated and to deal with issues as they arise.”