Published: 00:00, 11 February 2016
| Updated: 10:09, 11 February 2016
Former residents of a Gravesend children’s home are being urged to get in touch to help an investigation into allegations of historic child abuse.
Kendall House was opened in the 1920s as a home for young girls and operated under control from the Church of England dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury, with residents sent to stay by the local authority. It closed in 1986.
As a result of concerns raised by former residents regarding the treatment they received, the Right Reverend James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester commissioned an independent review on behalf of the dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury.
The Kendall House Review panel began their work last year.
A dedicated website has now been set up – www.kendallhousereview.org – encouraging more people to get in touch.
The website gives details of the review and contact details for the panel members.
The Kendall House Review panel is being lead by chairman Sue Proctor. She led the major independent investigation into matters relating to Jimmy Savile, and chaired the NHS Savile Legacy Unit.
She is joined by Samantha Cohen, a part time judge with some 20 years of experience as an independent barrister. She specialises in cases involving allegations of sexual abuse and child cruelty.
Also on the panel is Ray Galloway, who retired from the police service in 2013 as a detective superintendent. He was the director of the independent investigation into the activities of Jimmy Savile.
The Bishop of Rochester said: “The Kendall House Review panel is an independent panel of exceptional quality and experience.
“It is very important that former Kendall House residents and those with something to contribute feel able to contact the review panel in confidence." Right Reverend James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester
“It is very important that former Kendall House residents and those with something to contribute feel able to contact the review panel in confidence.
“The website details ways to do this and I encourage all former residents to take part in the review. The panel really want to hear from them.
“In the meantime, I am continuing to fund a support helpline which former residents can contact should they need additional pastoral care.”
A statement issued by the diocese said that a number of former Kendall House residents have settled legal claims regarding their personal treatment, but no former residents have started legal proceedings regarding birth defects in their children.
The Bishop of Rochester said: “The Church of England is not in a position to act as judge and jury in the absence of any birth defect related claims being made, and it would be foolhardy to attempt to do so.
“I urge all former Kendall House residents to participate in the review. If former residents feel they have a legal case regarding their treatment, they must bring proceedings accordingly.
“It really is vital that I remain outside of this independent review and it would be quite wrong of me to speculate about possible outcomes. We must now give the review panel time to complete their valuable and independent work.”
One former resident is Teresa Cooper, who claims she was forcibly drugged at the home between 1981 and 1984. Ms Cooper won substantial out-of-court damages from the church in 2010 over her claims, but has accused it of failing in its duty to her and other alleged abuse victims.
More by this authorMessenger Reporter