Peter Ball, a former Bishop of Gloucester who was jailed for abusing young ordinands for 15 years, has been released after serving half of his 32-month sentence. During his trial, it was alleged that Ball, now age 84, cultivated and assaulted at least 18 victims.

Richard Scorer, a lawyer who represents several of Ball’s victims, said his early release was a huge blow to his clients. The Archbishop of Canterbury has commissioned a review of the church’s handling of the case. Ball was first investigated in 1993, and it appears he managed to enlist several establishment figures to conceal his crimes and plead his innocence.

A Church of England spokeswoman said Ball’s crimes were a matter of “deep shame” and confirmed that the Church has “apologized unreservedly” to survivors. Ball has been deposed from ministry.

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