3 Oxford Bishop to Remain in Post Despite Criticism Over Child Abuse Case | The Christian Mail
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Oxford Bishop to Remain in Post Despite Criticism Over Child Abuse Case

In a recent update, Dr. Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford, has communicated his decision to continue in his role, emphasizing his commitment and dedication, despite the scrutiny he has faced regarding a child rape case that has generated criticism.

The announcement follows a call for his resignation by a survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by a Church of England priest in the 1980s, who claims that Croft failed to take appropriate action despite multiple reports being made.

Croft has acknowledged and expressed remorse for his “misstep,” while the Diocese of Oxford has affirmed that “the bishop will continue to fulfill his duties without resignation concerning this issue.”

Matthew Ineson, a survivor who courageously waived his right to anonymity, experienced a traumatic incident of rape at the age of 16, perpetrated by the late Rev Trevor Devamanikkam.

In 2013, Ineson reached out to then-Bishop of Sheffield, Rt Rev Steven Croft, by writing a letter, detailing the abuse he had suffered. Despite having already disclosed the historic abuse to the Bishop on two separate occasions, no action was taken.

The Devamanikkam Review, an impartial assessment of the Church’s handling of the allegations, revealed that key figures, including the Bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev Steven Croft, and the former Archbishop of York, Lord John Sentamu, did not respond appropriately when disclosures were brought to their attention.

The survivor has raised serious concerns regarding the Bishop’s response to the information provided. It has been alleged that Croft did not adequately address or investigate the reported incidents, thereby neglecting his duty to protect vulnerable individuals within his diocese. The survivor, along with various advocates for victims’ rights, has voiced a strong demand for the Bishop to step down from his role, citing his alleged mishandling of the case.

Responding to the allegations, Dr. Steven Croft has issued an apology, acknowledging what he referred to as a “mistake” in his handling of the child rape case. He said: “A little over ten years ago I made a mistake in my safeguarding practice. That mistake was costly for the survivor and for this I am very sorry.”

However, he has firmly stated his intention to continue serving as the Bishop of Oxford, emphasizing that he remains committed to the diocese and its community. Croft’s representative affirmed this stance, asserting that “of course the bishop will not be standing down on this matter.”

The Diocese of Oxford has also released a statement in support of the Bishop, expressing confidence in his ability to lead despite the controversy. They emphasized that the organization stands behind Dr. Croft’s commitment to his role and the community he serves, highlighting his achievements and contributions during his tenure. The Diocese acknowledged the gravity of the mishandling allegations but maintained that it is not grounds for the Bishop’s resignation.

The Diocese of Oxford told The Times: “Steven Croft has apologised to Matthew multiple times for an error, and it was an error. There’s nothing malicious in that. He’s not the abuser of Matthew. Of course the bishop will not be standing down on this matter. There was an awful lot going on with Matthew. It is a mistake, but that’s it.”

The case has once again brought attention to the handling of child abuse within religious institutions and the responsibility of church leaders to address such matters promptly and effectively. The survivor’s call for accountability has sparked a broader discussion on transparency, accountability, and the protection of vulnerable individuals within the Church of England and other religious organizations.

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