By John Martin
Peter Ball, the disgraced former bishop of Gloucester who was jailed in 2015 for a string of sexual assaults against boys and young men, has died at age 87.
The announcement of Ball’s death prompted Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead bishop for safeguarding, to comment, “We have been made aware of the death of Peter Ball and our prayers and thoughts are with everyone affected by this news.”
Hancock said the CofE would be in touch with survivors of offenses committed by Ball to offer support.
Ball was suffragan bishop of Lewes (Diocese of Chichester) between 1977 and 1992 and afterwards bishop of Gloucester from 1992 to 1993. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison for misconduct in public office and 15 months for indecent assaults. He was released in February 2017 after serving 16 months.
The ongoing public inquiry into sexual abuse in the CofE pinpointed many failures relating to the Ball case. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse said in a report published earlier this year there was in the church “secrecy, prevarication, avoidance of reporting alleged crimes to the authorities and a failure to take professional advice.”
“The question remains why the Church’s responses to sexual abuse in Chichester, including the Peter Ball case, were so inadequate,” the report said. A major factor was a concern for the reputation of the church over the protection of children.
Ball tried to enlist help of high-placed persons, including the then-Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey and the Prince of Wales, to speak up for him. Ball was the highest profile member, so far, of the clergy to be jailed for sexual abuse in recent memory.