“The Archbishop of York and four other Church of England bishops are under police investigation over allegations that they failed to respond properly to a report of clerical child abuse.
Matthew Ineson, a former priest, alleges that he was raped at the age of 16 by a vicar, the Rev Trevor Devamanikkam, in the 1980s.
He claims that he reported the abuse in 2012 and 2013 to senior clergymen including the Most Rev John Sentamu, who as Archbishop of York is the church’s second most senior member of clergy, and alleges that they failed to follow proper procedures and did not advise him to tell police.
Devamanikkam was later charged with indecent assault and buggery without consent, but took his own life in 2017 beforecoming to trial.
Mr Ineson, who has waived his right to anonymity, complained to police alleging misconduct in public office, related to the bishops’ responses.
The Times understands that South Yorkshire police are now working with the Crown Prosecution Service on the early stages of the investigation and are set to pass an initial bundle of evidence to prosecutors. The Church has not yet been contacted by police.
Mr Ineson said that he first disclosed his abuse in 2012 to the Right Rev Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster, and the Right Rev Steven Croft, then Bishop of Sheffield and now Bishop of Oxford.
The next year, he said he told the Right Rev Martyn Snow, then an archdeacon and now Bishop of Leicester. Mr Ineson said he also wrote a letter to Dr Croft, copied to the archbishop and the Right Rev Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley.
Mr Ineson said the archbishop sent a brief response assuring him of his “prayers through this testing time”.
“I didn’t know what to do,” said Mr Ineson, who felt forced to resign as a vicar. “I thought they didn’t believe me and it kept going round in my head wondering what Devamanikkam was doing now.”
The church’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) has previously confirmed that the archbishop replied, but said “the archbishop did not fail to act on any disclosure made” because safeguarding matters were the responsibility of local bishops.
Dr Croft said last year: “I’m sorry [Mr Ineson] feels that he wasn’t heard and I’m sorry for the suffering that’s caused him.” He said he had a “very different” memory of their conversations and added: “I have absolutely nothing to hide.”
A spokesman for the Bishop of Doncaster said last month: “We regret that the church did not offer [Mr Ineson] better protection and support at that time.”
Responding on behalf of all five clergymen, a spokeswoman for the Church’s NST said: “We have not been contacted by the police but would obviously fully co-operate if asked.”
The NST has said that it will launch an inquiry into the case. “[It] has been taken very seriously since it came to our attention,” it said. “The account of the abuse he suffered as a teenager is harrowing.”
David Greenwood, Mr Ineson’s lawyer, said: “It is reassuring to see the police carrying out this investigation.”
South Yorkshire police did not respond to a request for comment.”