The Church of England "colluded" with and helped to hide the long-term sexual abuse of young men by one of its former bishops, the head of the church said Thursday, per the AP. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologized to the victims who had spoken out and helped to bring ex-bishop Peter Ball to justice as the church published a report that detailed how senior leaders did little about allegations against Ball over years and even appeared to cover up the case. Welby ordered the independent report after Ball was convicted and imprisoned in 2015 for misconduct in public office and indecent assaults against teenagers and young men from the 1970s to 1990s. Ball, who admitted to abusing 18 young men, was released after serving 16 months.
Some victims reported that Ball, 85, encouraged them to engage in "spiritual exercises" involving naked praying and cold showers. The report said Ball's conduct "caused serious and enduring damage to the lives of many men," but at the time the church trivialized it, partly because of a lack of understanding about safeguarding vulnerable adult men. Ball was arrested in 1992 for suspected indecent assault and given a police caution. He retired as bishop of Gloucester, but was allowed to continue work in churches and schools for years. He was not prosecuted until two decades later. The report said church leaders appeared to try to cover up the problem when they failed to pass on letters that raised concerns about Ball to police. Welby described it as "inexcusable" behavior. (Read more sexual abuse stories.)