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Rochester diocese to re-examine past child abuse concerns

The diocese of Rochester has been ordered to look again at cases of concern about the behaviour of clergy and church officers towards children and vulnerable adults.

The review, which is being carried out across all 213 parishes in the district, follows an independent report into the Church of England’s handling of its 2007-2009 sensitive matters.

Rochester Cathedral. Picture: Steve Crispe
Rochester Cathedral. Picture: Steve Crispe

The process also includes Bishopscourt, the Bishop Rt Rev James Langstaff’s official residence and the diocesan office next to the cathedral. The diocese, which covers Medway, north and west Kent and the boroughs of Bromley and Bexley, is one of seven to come under scrutiny.

Bishop Langstaff said: “The fact abuse has ever happened within our diocese is a matter of deep shame.

“As a matter of justice for those who have been affected, and to fulfil our safeguarding responsibilities, we are now embarking on a comprehensive safeguarding review.

"It is vitally important those who have a concern about something they have experienced in a church or any diocesan-related activity, now or in the past, feel able, if they wish, to contribute. Their voices must and will be heard.”

It is being led by independent chairman John Cameron, former head of the NSPCC’s child protection operations, and the process, known as Past Cases Review 2, must be completed by the end of next year. It will also involve victim/survival groups and police.

Rochester Cathedral. Picture by Peter Still
Rochester Cathedral. Picture by Peter Still

A statement from the diocesan office said: “It’s also an opportunity to learn about incidents that may have not previously been known about.

“Independent reviewers, appointed from a national church approved list, are currently carrying out a comprehensive review of the files held by the diocese.

“As part of the process we are very keen to engage with victims and survivors to ensure their voice is heard and offer support, so any assistance from your readers to encourage anyone to come forward would be very much appreciated.”

“Whether your experience is in the past, or it concerns the behaviour of a person now towards a child or vulnerable adult, I would encourage you to contact the Diocesan Safeguarding team on 01634 560000.

"Understanding that this may not feel safe for those with a lived experience of abuse, a dedicated telephone helpline operated independently by the NSPCC, is also available on 0800 80 20 20. Your contact will be treated in the strictest confidence and you can remain anonymous if you wish.”

Former Rochester Cathedral director of music Scott Farrell
Former Rochester Cathedral director of music Scott Farrell

In August, Rochester Cathedral’s former music director, Scott Farrell, 48, of High Street, Wouldham, was jailed for five years for sexual offences against young boys.

Former cathedral choirmaster Samuel Rathbone, of The Precinct, Rochester, was jailed in July 2014 for three years for having unlawful sex with a 14-year-old girl. He was 28 at the time.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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