A victim of sexual abuse by a vicar has successfully obtained an out-of-court settlement in a civil claim against The Diocese of Chichester for sexual assaults she suffered as a child.“Ms X” and her family were parishioners of St Margaret’s Church in Warnham, West Sussex. Reverend Brian Spence was the incumbent vicar there. Ms X was a chorister at the church and that is how she came into contact with Spence. Spence also befriended and groomed Ms X’s parents.
Following a service in 1978, Ms X, aged 10, volunteered to try bell ringing with Spence. Spence proceeded to sexually assault Ms X whilst bell ringing, on occasions in the vestry, and on another occasion whilst in her own home.
The Police Investigation
In September 2016, Ms X responded to a radio appeal for victims of sexual abuse in the Sussex area in the 1980s to come forward. In October 2016, Ms X gave a statement to the police about her abuse at the hands of Spence, and a criminal investigation ensued.
In May 2018, Spence was convicted after he pleaded guilty to three offences of Indecent Assault against Ms X at Lewes Crown Court. Spence was sentenced to 3 years and 2 months’ imprisonment.
The Civil Claim
In 2018, Ms X decided to pursue a civil claim against the Diocese of Chichester and approached Emmott Snell Solicitors. Ms X argued that the Diocese of Chichester could be pursued as they were legally responsible for crimes committed by their priests.
After negotiations, Ms X was offered a substantial five-figure sum by way of an out-of-court settlement by the Diocese of Chichester.
Whilst no amount of money can make up for the harm suffered by Ms X or the effect it has had on her life, it is hoped the settlement may help her find some closure and provide important recognition for the lifelong injury she has suffered.