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Judge's fury at Diocese of London after rape sentencing

Fri 15 Apr 2016
By Antony Bushfield

A judge in the case of a trainee vicar convicted of raping two teenage girls has furiously hit out at the Church of England.

The Diocese of London was responsible for "a shameful misrepresentation of the truth", Judge Philip Katz QC said.

He said a statement put out by the Church after Timothy Storey, 35, was convicted in February may have been "a shameful misrepresentation of the truth" that implied the "blameless" police failed to stop Storey committing his crimes.

The trainee vicar and youth worker was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for sex attacks on two "vulnerable" young women.

The judge said that a press statement by the capital's Church of England diocese after a guilty verdict implied the "blameless" police failed to stop Storey committing his crimes.

Instead there was a "wholesale failure by those responsible at that time for safeguarding", Judge Katz said.

Storey, a former church youth leader, bombarded his victims with sex texts and social media messages to manipulate them into meeting him.

One was later attacked at his Oxford home after he took her to a concert and plied her with alcohol.

The court was told he used his respectable position as a youth leader to gain the second victim's trust, and sexually assaulted her on two separate occasions between 2008 and 2009.

Judge Katz said Storey's "insidious" behaviour meant he was a serious danger to the public and ordered he serve an extended period of four years on licence on top of his 15-year custodial sentence.

He told the court that after the trial ended in February he had been made aware of media reports including a statement issued by the Diocese of London that "appeared to suggest that the diocese had acted appropriately at all times and indeed that the allegations had been reported to the police years ago".

He added: "The implication was that the police were at fault. If the diocese did issue such a statement, and if it made those suggestions it was a shameful misrepresentation of the truth."

He went on to talk about the evidence of a witness from the diocese who had been "charged by his superiors with asking the defendant to give an account of himself".

He said the man was "an odd choice for the task and was clearly unsuited to perform it."

The judge added: "Nor was he an impressive witness. About the only thing that he said which I believed was when he told the court that his superior seemed to be worried about the reputational damage to the diocese."

This superior, the judge said, was not called as a witness but had signed a document sent to the independent safeguarding authority "which was entirely misleading as to any police involvement".

The judge said he believed the police "entirely", adding: "His superior, the then diocesan adviser on safeguarding, was asked to make a statement and, according to the evidence I heard, arrogantly refused."

He praised police, saying: "The case was investigated diligently and sensitively, something the diocese had been incapable of."

A spokesperson for the Diocese of London Safeguarding Team said: "Timothy Storey carried out a series of appalling crimes and we are profoundly sorry for what his victims endured.

"While, since 2010, we have made significant improvements to our safeguarding processes, and greatly increased the resources available, we are constantly striving to make our Church safe for everyone.

"Nevertheless, we fully acknowledge the comments that have been made by the Judge and we are committed to ensuring that lessons are learned and acted upon.

"We will now be commissioning a thorough independent review of our own handling of the case and will be contacting Timothy Storey's victims accordingly."

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