The following statement was read by the Bishop of Stepney at St Leonard’s Shoreditch on Sunday 21 May 2023:
I’m here to talk about a painful issue, affecting members of this church community. What I’m going to relate now is deeply upsetting, but it’s important to speak openly about it as part of today’s service, even though questions remain unanswered.
In March last year, a member of the congregation here made a disclosure to the leadership. They said they had been raped by another member of the congregation. The parish and Diocesan Safeguarding Team offered assistance to all those concerned, following our safeguarding policies. The person who made the disclosure was encouraged to attend a sexual assault referral centre, and to make a report to the Metropolitan Police.
I am speaking to you today with the person’s consent and encouragement. They have asked for me to refer to them as a victim, which I will do, and we fully support them accordingly. I would remind you that they, as with all victims of sexual assault, are legally entitled to lifelong anonymity.
Tragically, the individual they made the disclosure about, Nick Leger, died earlier this year. There is an ongoing coroner’s inquest into his death, which we should not pre-empt, but it will be public. Our understanding is that the Crown Prosecution Service had instructed the police to charge him with rape, and a court date had been set. We are conscious of the devastating effect on Nick’s family and friends, who have all lost a loved-one. His parents have also been supportive of my making this statement today. They told us they want anyone affected, in any way, to get the help they need.
As a Church, we are committed to helping anyone who has experienced harm, and to creating an environment where everyone can speak openly and freely. That won’t always be easy, and we won’t always get it right.
The victim in this case who made the disclosure has suffered and continues to experience great trauma. Above all, they showed incredible courage in coming forward and we have agreed with them that we want to ensure that anyone who has suffered any form of abuse can seek and receives proper help.
If you wish to make a disclosure, or have been affected in any way by what you have heard today, a Parish Safeguarding Officer is available at the end of the service should you wish to talk to someone. Pastoral support is available too. We’ll also be publishing on the Diocesan website what I’ve said, along with contact details for the Diocesan Safeguarding Team, and independent organisations Safespaces and Thirtyone:eight.
They will support you. You will be listened to, and what you have to say will be taken seriously. As a Church, we are committed to creating safe spaces for all.