An Eastbourne man who was sexually abused as a child by Church of England priest Roy Cotton has confronted his past and says he can finally move forward with his life.
Brian Bond, 49, was featured in the BBC South East Inside Out programme on Monday night and filmed meeting the family he has not seen for more than 40 years and chatting to the Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner about the abuse he suffered.
Brian was born in Birmingham but placed into foster care in Eastbourne as a baby in 1965 by his single mother.
However, he said his formative years were far from happy, with mistreatment from his foster mother leaving him psychologically and physically abused.
At the age of eight, Mr Bond came into contact with the Reverend Roy Cotton, a Church of England priest at St Andrew’s in Seaside, who he met through a church connected to his primary school and was subjected to a prolonged period of violent sexual abuse, and also sexually abused by one of his associates.
Cotton worked for the Diocese of Chichester in the 1970s and 1980s despite being convicted of a sexual offence against a boy in 1954. He died in 2006 without ever being brought to justice.
By the age of 12 the sexual abuse had ended and Brian had been placed with a different foster family.
East Sussex County Council has since acknowledged that he “was let down” during his time in care, and has offered him a full apology.
Birmingham City Council has refused to comment on individual cases.
As part of the process to put his past life behind him, Brian, who still lives in Eastbourne and has waived his anonymity, agreed to meet the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner.
During a private visit to his home, the bishop apologised for the sexual abuse Brian had suffered as a child and for the church’s failings.
Last month Brian was also finally reunited with the brother and three sisters he thought he had lost, who in turn had also been searching for him through social service departments in Eastbourne and Birmingham.
However, by that point both his parents had died.
“You can’t keep hiding behind what happened in the past all the time,” said Brian.
“But to actually get out there and get hold of it, which has been stressful at times... but it’s been well worth it to find out who I am now, to realise people love me, people have been looking for me, and that is worth more than any money in the world.”
The Inside Out programme is still available to watch on the iPlayer.