Friday, March 17, 2023

Priest barred from ministry for life for non-disclosure of husband’s sex offences

Solihull vicar admitted knowledge of husband's sex offending - BBC News

A vicar who failed to disclose to the Church of England her husband's sexual abuse of children has been barred from the ministry.

It emerged in October that the then Rev Helen Greenham had admitted saying nothing to her diocese, despite knowing of abuse by spouse Peter Jenkins.

She was suspended from St Helen's Church in Solihull pending the outcome of a disciplinary tribunal.

A penalty has since been handed down, with a permanent ban placed upon her.

Ms Greenham refused to comment to the BBC on the outcome.

The Church of England's removal of her from public office, in addition to "Prohibition from Ministry for life", reflected "the severity of the misconduct", said the Diocese of Birmingham.

Further findings, it added, would be published in due course.

Jenkins, a former teacher, was jailed for 13 years in August 2022 over a raft of sex offences, including rape, committed between 1984 and 2005. The offences predate the pair's association with St Helen's and there is no evidence of any criminal behaviour connected to the church.

No criminal charges have been brought against Ms Greenham.

Jenkins' victims were four females who were young girls when he abused them. One of them has told the BBC Ms Greenham's silence had enabled Jenkins to work with people who could have gone on to become further targets.

Ms Greenham joined the Diocese of Birmingham in 2011 and, according to the Solihull parish website, acted as director for the children and families ministry.

The BBC learned last year her failure to disclose knowledge of Jenkins' behaviour had spanned a period between her appointment and 2019, when criminal proceedings began, after which time the pair separated.

Church documents seen by the BBC revealed that in addition to her admission of that silence, she admitted exposing others to risk of harm as a consequence. There was a further admission that she had failed to manage the risk by allowing him to perform roles within the church.

Parishioners last year expressed concerns about the risks to which they believed they had been exposed.

The BBC has since spoken to one of Jenkins' victims, whose experience formed part of the criminal case against him.

Waiving her right to anonymity, Georgina Rothwell said she was speaking in the hope of encouraging other abuse victims to come forward, including any more harmed by Jenkins.

She told the BBC she had suffered decades of trauma after being sexually abused by Jenkins from the age of 12.

"He managed to persuade me that he was a nice guy, he could look after me, he could care for me," she said from her home in south-west England. "I was very, very vulnerable."

She said she was raped by him and, aged 13, had an abortion while Jenkins was a student in the north of England in the late 1980s.

She explained: "Peter made sex almost like a currency - you got looked after, cared for, but you had to pay for it.

"If I wanted some new clothes for my Barbie doll, he'd buy me them; if I wanted a new My Little Pony, he'd buy me them."

She said: "Helen knew of my age, my abortion, because she was at university with [Jenkins] at the time. Helen knew he'd abused a 12-year-old and got her pregnant at 13."

Despite IVF treatment in later life, Ms Rothwell said she had not been able to conceive a child which was "the thing that was most important to me".

She added: "I'm angry that Peter stole my childhood, he stole my innocence, I'm disgusted with him.

"He has so many victims out there, he is a top class manipulator. He manipulates all of those around him."

West Midlands Police said it would continue inquiries if more people came forward alleging abuse.