Sentence pales in comparison to henious crime - Argus Friday 9th October 2015

Posted Friday 9th October 2015   By Ericka Waller

Who can we trust? The Former Bishop of Lewes, Peter Ball, was sentenced to 32 months in prison over sex offences. It is said he ‘abused’ his power to exploit young aspiring priests for his own "selfish sexual motive". Between 1977 and 1992 he abused 18 boys. Now aged 83, Ball will serve just half of his sentence in custody, meaning jail time of just one month for each of his victims.

The abuse included beatings, and victims were made to strip naked during baptisms, where Ball was also naked. One victim said he saw Ball as a “living saint”.

Ball, who counted the Prince of Wales as a loyal friend, had first been accused in 1993 by Neil Todd, who attempted suicide three times as a result of his abuse, and went on to kill himself in 2012.

Ball accepted a caution for indecency in 1993 and resigned his position as Bishop of Lewes.  At the time of the indecency charge, Ball told other young men in his care that Todd’s story was “total fantasy” and tried to deter them from coming forward.

He was then given a cottage on The Duchy of Wales, Prince Charles’ property. Letters of support written for Ball in 1993 came from cabinet ministers, Lord Chief Justice, Magistrates, former public school masters and a member of the Royal Family. He was allowed to continue officiating at ceremonies for many years by the then archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey.

Ball was protected on all sides while the abused were left broken, ashamed and unsupported.

Sadly, this tale is not as shocking as it once would have been. It has become common place for our public figures to be exposed as abusers.

Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, Jonathon King, Gary Glitter, Dave Lee Travis, Max Clifford, Former Radio One DJ Chris Denning and Doctor Michael Salmon have all been convicted of indecent assault of a sexual nature.

So who then, can we trust? All these people were willing to defend a man of the cloth, almost every pillar of society that we were bought up to respect unquestioningly has been exposed.

It seems the ‘seen but not heard’ generation are finally finding their voices and many of the poor children who were told to ‘do as their elders ordered and don’t talk back’ have spent their  adult lives hiding hideous secrets about the people they were told they could trust.

Ball, having lived a long, privileged life, will serve 30 days for each boy he abused. As someone who has been abused myself, I can tell you that it takes more than 30 days of your life away when you are the victim. It takes a life that you can never get back.

I was abused by a friend’s dad. I was 17 years old. I trusted him implicitly. I left who I was before he touched me in his house when I left afterwards, because you can no longer be the person you were before you were abused.

Ball probably doesn’t even remember all of his victim’s names and faces. I can guarantee they can all remember his however; he will be an indelible mark on them. A scar they carry. This story coming out will bring them no peace, nor will the pathetic sentence, 30 years too late. My abuser went to prison, it fixed nothing.

Meanwhile will read their story online, tut in shame and then move on to the next news piece. They will never be able to do the same.

And finally

So England makes Rugby World Cup history, by becoming the first host nation to be eliminated in the group stages. Is it really any great surprise?

Once again we rode on a wave of optimism about the upcoming tournament which we were going to bring home ‘this time’. Two weeks later, dreams are dashed (unless we delve into our Welsh ancestry desperate for a distant daffodil to cling on to).

Over the last three World Cups, in what are considered as ‘our men’s national sports’, the footballers finished bottom of the table behind the might of Costa Rica in 2014, followed hot on incompetent heels by the 2015 Cricketers who were eliminated in group stage below Bangladesh and now the Rugby team have lost twice in their own back yard.

Meanwhile TV companies are paying breathtakingly obscene amounts of money to stream these professional games live into our lounges, direct to the kids who could make a difference to national sports in the future, but are happier sitting in the warm, remote control or Xbox controller in hand.

If this trend continues, the sofa bound youth of today won't have any major sporting tournament to watch in 20 years, such is the rate of decline. Unless our national sport becomes Call of Duty of course. We’d wipe the floor with them in that case