Devon

Devon man sexually abused by priest criticises police

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Media captionA sex abuse victim has criticised police for failing to investigate his complaint against Church of England priest Vickery House

A man who was sexually assaulted by a Church of England priest has criticised police accusing them of failing to investigate his complaint.

The victim, from Devon, says he told Devon and Cornwall Police about Vickery House's abuse in 2001 - 11 years before an investigation was launched.

Last year the clergyman was jailed for six-and-a-half years for sex offences against boys and young men.

His youngest victim was assaulted in Devon in 1970 at the age of 14.

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Encouraged by his wife, the man approached police with his story in 2001. The investigation that led to House's conviction was started by Sussex Police in May 2012.

'No hint of an apology'

"I reached a point when I couldn't function properly as a human being," he told the BBC.

"If it had been dealt with properly at that time I could have dealt with all the issues around that and moved on with my life ten or 15 years ago.

"It would have made a huge difference to my children. I also may have saved some other people from being abused.

"I'm disappointed that that there is no hint of an apology for their lack of action."

Devon and Cornwall Police said it had no record of any local investigation relating to the victim, but added: "We do not doubt he spoke to a police officer."

A spokesperson said: "Back in 2001 the way in which police dealt with complaints of historic sexual abuse was very different and not at all reflective of today's policing."

The victim has now asked a lawyer to help him make a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

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Image caption House's abuse emerged during the investigation into former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball

House was an associate of the former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball, who was jailed for 32 months last year after he admitted molesting young men between 1977 and 1992.

Three victims were abused by both men, who ran a Church of England scheme called Give a Year For Christ in Litlington, East Sussex.

A document seen by the BBC describes how a detective from Gloucestershire wanted to give information about Vickery House to Sussex Police in 1993.

But a priest from Sussex persuaded him not to, instead assuring the detective that the Church would deal with the matter.

Sussex Police say they received no allegations about House between 1993 and 2012.

In May 2012 Sussex police received information from the Church of England concerning one of the victims and an investigation was launched. Other victims came forward during the investigation.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: "The bulk of all intelligence relating to Vickery House came from the Sussex area where he was convicted in October 2015.

Image caption The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev Robert Atwell has met the victim to apologise on behalf of the church

"We do not know the level of information presented to police in Devon in 2001, but what is clear is that evidence from other victims was later proven to show Vickery House as a dangerous individual who had abused a number of boys he had contact with during their formative years.

"Should any such allegation have been made now, the measures in place to support victims and encourage them to come forward and talk about historic abuse are far greater," he added.

Last month, the Bishop of Exeter met the Devon victim to apologise in person on behalf of the church.

The Right Reverend Robert Atwell said: "I wanted to extend to him an unreserved apology for what had happened to him."

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