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Rochester diocese urges victims of abuse in church and cathedral to help safeguarding review

Victims of abuse at the hands of people involved with the church are being urged to come forward to help an investigation.

A review, which was called for in December, is being carried out by the Diocese of Rochester looking at cases of concern regarding the behaviour of clergyman and church officers towards children and vulnerable adults.

Rochester Cathedral, in Boley Hill, is included in the review of the diocese of Rochester abuse concerns. Picture: Peter Still
Rochester Cathedral, in Boley Hill, is included in the review of the diocese of Rochester abuse concerns. Picture: Peter Still

The diocese covers north and west Kent as well as Bromley and Bexley and is among the 42 dioceses in the country taking action.

Dubbed the Past Cases Review, it was described as a “vital opportunity” to learn about matters church leaders hadn’t previously known about, as well as engaging with victims and survivors of abuse to “ensure their voice is heard and offer support”.

Bishop of Rochester, Rt Rev James Langstaff, said: “The fact abuse has ever happened within our Diocese is a matter of deep shame.

“It is vitally important that 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 to the Past Cases Review.

“Their voices must and will be heard.

"We want anyone with information about church-related abuse to know they will be taken seriously..."

It is being carried out by an independent team from a National Church approved list and will look at all 268 parishes, the diocesan office, the Bishop’s office and Rochester Cathedral.

Julie Conalty, the Bishop's lead for safeguarding in the Diocese of Rochester, said: “We appreciate that this review will only be meaningful if those who have a concern about something they have experienced in a church, now or in the past, have their voice heard.

“We therefore want to encourage anyone who may have information about church-related abuse to know that there are people you can talk to and you will be taken seriously.”

The Bishop of Rochester, Rev James Langstaff has asked any abuse victims or survivors to come forward, if they wish
The Bishop of Rochester, Rev James Langstaff has asked any abuse victims or survivors to come forward, if they wish

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.

To visit the Diocese of Rochester safeguarding review click here

Any victims, recent or non-recent, can call the safeguarding team on 01634 560000 or the NSPCC on 0800 802020.

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