‘My vicar flashed me, and when I complained the church told me to shut up’
Ex-church assistant was forced to sign non-disclosure agreement over priest who stripped off in front of her
The Church of England has been accused of using non-disclosure agreements to hush up a sexual harassment case involving one of its vicars.
Jo Kind, a former assistant at St John’s Church in Harborne, Birmingham, alleges she was forced to sign an NDA before reading the official review into how her case was investigated this year.
She accused Reverend Tom Walker of stripping off his clothes in front of her and walking around the vicarage in “various states of arousal” during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The use of NDAs has become a matter of intense public debate following allegations about their use by businessman Sir Philip Green.
Kind told Channel 4 News she felt the church had wanted to protect the memory of Walker, who died in 2016.
A copy of the report seen by the broadcaster delivered damning findings about how her case was handled by the Bishop of Birmingham in 2011.
It found the church “fell short on a number of basic standards of complaint handling” and said Bishop David Urquhart “lacked adequate knowledge of safeguarding and the capacity to manage the process”.
The church paid Kind £40,000 after she launched a civil claim against them, but admitted no liability, the broadcaster reported.
However the institution will probably face fresh scrutiny over its alleged use of an NDA, after the Archbishop of Canterbury, its most senior cleric, questioned their legitimacy this year.
He told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in March: “A non-disclosure agreement seems to me to be dangerous because it creates suspicion: ‘Why are you doing an NDA? Surely you’re trying to cover something up’.”
Kind claimed she was warned by an unnamed bishop not to talk to the media because it wouldn’t be “very godly”.
Explaining her decision to speak publicly, she told Channel 4: “I have no fear of being ungodly in that way and because I have asked for 10 years for the church to speak up about this and they haven’t.”
The Church of England in Birmingham said: “We are deeply sorry for the pain and distress these failings have caused.
“The decision not to publish the full report ... related to concerns regarding the safeguarding of the many contributors.”
– © Telegraph Media Group