Church abuse victim Gary receives apology

A former choirboy from Eastbourne who was abused as child by an Anglican priest has received a letter of apology from the Bishop of Chichester who also admitted there was a cover up.

Gary Johnson and his older brother were abused by disgraced priest Roy Cotton, who worked for the Diocese of Chichester, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Cotton was ordained in 1966, despite having a conviction for sexually abusing a choirboy in the 1950s, and went on to abuse at least 10 boys from Eastbourne. He died in 2006 as investigations were under way.

This week Gary, who now lives in America, received a private letter from Dr Martin Warner who wrote, “There has been deception and cover-up here.”

He also said, “By cover-up, I mean that a person in authority, who has information, deliberately, knowingly ignores the information, does not pass it on; allows somebody who is a perpetrator of abuse to move from one post to another, allows somebody who is a perpetrator of abuse not to be challenged, brought to account – and thereby colludes actually with the abuse.

“There have been instances of child sex abuse we now see as the files are explored where that has happened. Roy Cotton is the most obvious example for which we have evidence.

“I am deeply ashamed of the way that you have been treated by us.”

As well as “deception and cover-up”, he told Mr Johnson there had also been “ineptitude and irresponsible lack of professionalism”.

Mr Johnson said, “I’ve been taken seriously at last. It’s given me some semblance of humanity.

“It should be there for all other victims wherever they are, especially those who’ve never been contacted, who’ve never been offered any support, who struggle in silence.”