Priest killed himself after being wrongly accused of child abuse | #childabuse | #children | #kids

The Church of England is under fire over the suicide of a priest who took his own life after being wrongly accused of child sexual abuse.

Father Alan Griffin, 76, hanged himself at home in November last year, after spending a year under investigation while denied knowledge of the source of the accusations.

In a damning report following the inquest into his death, Coroner Mary Hassell exonerated Father Griffin and heavily criticised the Church of England for its handling of the investigation.

“He killed himself because he could not cope with an investigation into his conduct, the detail of and the source for which he had never been told,” she said.

“Father Griffin did not abuse children. He did not have sex with young people under the age of 18. He did not visit prostitutes. He did not endanger the lives of others by having sex with people whilst an HIV risk. And there was no evidence that he did any of these things.”

In reports sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the chair of the Catholic Standards Safeguarding Agency, Ms Hassell set out the chain of events that led to Father Griffin being wrongly accused.

The head of operations of the Anglican Diocese of London and Westminster undertook a “brain dump” when he was retiring in 2019, passing on details to an archdeacon of past investigations and convictions of clergy, as well as safeguarding concerns and “gossip”.

Father Griffin was wrongly said to have admitted to “using rent boys”, and the head of operations conceded at the inquest that he may have “misinterpreted” the fact that Father Griffin “was generous with hospitality and paid for meals out”.

Ms Hassell said the basis of the head of operation’s claims and recollections were never explored or properly documented, while an allegation of “possible child exploitation” against Father Griffin had been mistakenly copied in the notes from another entry.

The priest had converted to the Roman Catholic church, and a note of the baseless claims against him were then passed on by the Church of England.

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