Bishop apologies to Teesside paedophile priest victims
A PUBLIC apology will be issued by a bishop 20 years after a Teesside vicar was exposed as a paedophile.
Former Middlesbrough vicar Trevor Ward was jailed for seven years in 1988 after being convicted of abusing young boys.
Ward was the vicar of St Agnes’ Church in Easterside (pic below) until his sordid secret came to light.
Now, 20 years on from Ward’s arrest, the Bishop of Whitby has announced he will be making a formal public apology.
Ward’s victims are among those invited to a service of reconciliation at St Agnes’ on Saturday.
The Right Reverend Robert Ladds said: “Abuse by a priest is a terrible and shocking thing because a vital part of a priest’s work is to reach out with the love of God to people who need help, support or friendship – and so must be worthy of their trust.
“I want to offer a deep apology to the individuals who were so badly hurt and the community whose trust was abused by Trevor Ward while he ministered in Easterside, where he did so much harm over six years.
“I hope that many of those in Easterside whose lives were touched or damaged in any way by these dreadful events will join us on November 17 to offer our sorrow and pain from the past to God, and to commit ourselves to a future where the Church deserves the trust people want to place in it.”
He said he hoped they would be joined by “many of those in Easterside whose lives were touched or damaged in any way by these dreadful events.”
Ward was convicted on nine counts of sex abuse in March 1988 and jailed for seven years.
He died in December 2006.
A spokesman for the Diocese of York said: “It is appropriate for the church to stand up and say we are sorry that we failed to appoint a good and godly minister there in the Eighties.
“It takes a long time for hurt that severe to be addressed.”
The apology will be made during a service at the church at 2pm on Saturday.
It will include prayers for the cleansing of the church and reconciliation with the Easterside community.
The service was suggested by the present Priest-in-Charge of St Agnes’ Church, the Reverend Margery Grange, to recognise and address the hurt still evident in the community 20 years after Ward’s arrest.
While the church co-operated fully with the criminal process and promptly removed Ward from his post, it has not previously offered a formal apology for the harm he did.