Julie Roys has conducted an amazing interview with one of Fletcher’s victims, Lee Furney.
Lee and I went through Cornhill in London at the same time. He was a boarder at Fletcher’s home in Wimbledon and eventually ended up reporting what was happening. Nothing was done.
LEE FURNEY 30:17
So, I filed a formal complaint with the staff team, and I did that on a number of occasions. So, there was three or four times.
JULIE ROYS 30:24
LEE FURNEY 30:25
I went to Wimbledon and I went and complained to the staff team there and said that it had to stop.
JULIE ROYS 30:31
And the response?
LEE FURNEY 30:33
You were told that he was a great man, it was a great honor to be at the church, and you needed to take the rough with the smooth in life. And you should be thrilled with being here. And so, you really need to settle down.
and then a little later, after having complained on a number of occasions…
And so, I complained. I said, Look, you know, I’ve heard these rumors of back rubs, I’ve seen someone getting lowered into a bath. There’s clear favoritism going on here. And unless you dance to his tune, then you’re pushed off a cliff, and you’re condemned. And you as leaders are standing around watching this. Something needs to be done. So, I was assured at that point, that would be investigated. And it did sound very bad. But they were sure that there was a reasonable explanation for it. And of course, there wasn’t a reasonable explanation.
The interview also covers how the news eventually came out and the continuing culture of cover-up and information-management that went into full flow. When voices of victims were first sought the process for reporting was awful:
First of all, they were invited to report their abuse. Where? To the church itself. There was no safeguarding charity to report it to. So, you had to go to the church itself, and report the abuse of the church itself. In my case, to one of the enablers of his abuse. So that’s what you were invited to do. Here is a letter. There is literally a box in the letter that tells you where to report to, you can report to the minister who enabled his abuse, or to the safeguarding officer there. And if you want to think out of the box, you can go to the diocese and safeguarding officer that you’ve been told for 20 years is a no-good liberal. And you know, that would basically be apostasy to go there to the diocese. So those are the options given to the people to report. So many didn’t report, many had no level of trust, and stayed back. Some brave people did do that, and courageously spoke out. And we’ve been able to now establish that all of these things that were said happened, but actually, there’s far many more victims than we’ve got recorded. There were 27 victims were recorded in that report. Well, that’s the tip of the iceberg for Fletcher’s abuse.
It is unfortunate but we need to be clear on something:
Robin Weekes, currently the vicar at Emmanuel Wimbledon, was curate at the time when Lee was making his complaints. As the report puts it “little or no action was taken”. Then, Weekes was the person that Emmanuel Wimbledon told victims they should share their stories with; the same person who almost 20 years before had taken “little or no action” and ended up defending the position of Fletcher rather than advocating for vulnerable young trainees. It is also very difficult to believe that knowledge of what Fletcher was doing was limited to the then Emmanuel leadership, even back then in the early 2000s and certainly prior to 2017 when it was made known to the Church of England authorities.
The 31:8 report states,
There is an urgent need for individual and collective repentance demonstrated by a clear pursuit of learning and change. Repentance would include all those who have been responsible for harm, or complicit in it (either through acts of commission or omission) being able to clearly articulate where they have wronged others and what they intend to do in order to begin reparations31:8 report, p96
Will that happen? Back to the interview:
Well, Emmanuel Wimbledon has already come out and said that the minister there is going to be staying in post and everybody else in that particular inner circle of evangelicalism is forwarding their excuses to say they didn’t know very much, really. And so, this is pretend. So, we’re all very, very sorry. But no one will take any personal responsibility. And so, when everybody is sorry, and the apology is general, nobody’s really sorry at all. And so, for example, for me, I’ve got people saying to journalists, They are very, very sorry the way that they treated me. Really remorseful. They’ve got great regrets. But they haven’t told me that. And so, if you were really repentant, you’d go to your brother, wouldn’t you or your sister? And you’d say to them, Look, I’ve sinned against you, brother or sister. And there’s been ample time to do that. And instead, it’s been the same people that have been coming to me not to say sorry, to me, but to say to me, Could you get people to stop making such a fuss? Can you get people to take tweets down off social media because you know, these people, and then you’re faced with somebody who hasn’t been in touch with you for 20 years. The last time that you met them, they actually turned their back on you and try to avoid you. Well now, they’re picking up the phone, not to apologize. But to ask you to manage their social media, whilst at the same time, decrying social media to other people in their circles and say, Don’t listen to any of that stuff.interview transcript 48:41
What Lee relates here, and there is no reason to doubt him, mirrors a number of conversations I had when the Fletcher story started breaking publicly. Knowing that davidould.net was a place where sometimes I would write about and expose these sorts of things, I was contacted with the express concern that I should not write about it. All the concern was about minimising the exposure.
But the “request” made to me was nothing compared to the deliberate rejection of complaints made when the abuse was happening. Those who knew then knew all the way up to 2017. They knew every time another hint was made, every time another allegation surfaced and was swept away. They were categorically not surprised when it all eventually came out. Yet who will take real responsibility?
For more information from the Independent Advisory Group check out the website soulinformation.org.