THE Bishop of Chichester has said the church was wrong in not taking action over paedophile priest Father Roy Cotton.
Cotton was a vicar at St St George’s Church Brede and and St Mary’s at Udimore in the 1990’s and had access to local primary schools.
Gary Johnson and his older brother, from Eastbourne, were abused by Cotton when they were choirboys.
In a private letter of apology to Mr Johnson, Dr Martin Warner wrote: “There has been deception and cover-up here.”
Reacting to the letter, Mr Johnson said: Mr Johnson said: “I’ve been taken seriously at last.”
He said: “It’s given me some semblance of humanity. I’ve been validated, and I’ve been met at a level where I don’t feel like a victim or a survivor.
“I feel like I’m a party that is worth talking to.”
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.
Dr Warner said the cover-up had not been perpetrated by recent or current senior members of clergy.
He 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.”
The letter was written on 10 April, following a meeting the day before between Dr Warner and Mr Johnson.
The previous Bishop of Chichester, Dr John Hind, who commissioned a review by Baroness Butler-Sloss into how historical claims of abuse by two Sussex priests were handled, said: “Bishop Martin has my full support in any efforts that make unambiguously clear his and my deep sorrow for the way in which so many young people were abused.”
“I am therefore glad of the opportunity to repeat the full apology to victims.”