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
At Wimbledon.

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 reparations

31:8 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?

The whole interview is well worth listening to, or at least work through the transcript.

For more information from the Independent Advisory Group check out the website soulinformation.org.

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4 comments on “Jonathan Fletcher Victim Speaks Out

  1. A truly sad tale, following so closely revelations that the late Ravi Zacharias so shamelessly dishonoured Christ & his fellow evangelicals in America. Now another betrayer/hypocrite clergyman appears in London. Mr Furness’ remarks towards the end of the interview “We’re (ministers of religion) supposed to not just teach & train but we’re supposed to correct & rebuke. And if we don’t correct & rebuke, then everything is going to go wrong with our teaching & training ….. Because we’ve not really listened to the scriptures.”

    There’s a lesson there for all leadership levels in the ACA. When you see deviations from Christ’s teachings, call them out, “correct & rebuke”.

    Aspiring Archbishops of Sydney, take note. Ditto incumbent Wangaratta & Newcastle Bishops.
    Paul Nolan

  2. I refer to Lee Furney’s remark quoted above:

    “… this is pretend. So, we’re all very, very sorry. But no one will take any personal responsibility….”.

    Well, do you know perhaps why no one will take any personal responsibility? I’d suggest it’s because people may well be seeking to exploit the very case brought against Fletcher, namely, that he used his power and status to abuse and intimidate his victims. If so, why can’t they, themselves, be seen also as among those who were misled and mistreated, by him, so that their failure to act or listen to complainants was because they were just as much deceived by his power and charisma, and thus, “inadvertently” allowed the abuse to continue? In other words, why can’t they scapegoat JF just like his accusers who will not speak at all of “victim’s” responsibility?

    Furney is not being straightforward about this. He was not a simple victim of Fletcher. He was a complainant, which is something very different. Unless you draw the distinction between the two (which Furney fail to do, probably out of compassion for those who stumbled), you allow Fletcher to be scapegoated not only by his accusers, but also, by those who, for whatever reason, wish to avoid being seen as complicit. James 5:16.

  3. Thanks for this David and for your courage in reporting on these things. I have read the full transcripts of Furney’s interview, and your comment about Robin Weekes knowing about these matters 20 years ago, taking little or no action, and now being the Vicar after Fletcher. If these things are all true, then I cannot see how the ministry at Emmanuel Wimbledon (and wider ministries associated it) maintain their integrity unless Robin Weekes resigns. If these reports are true – he knew about it, did not do enough in response, was promoted as Vicar (suggesting a culture of promoting people who can be relied upon to continue to minimise abuse), continued to hide Fletcher’s behaviour and only initiated an independent report (whose terms of reference rule out identifying what he knew about the matter) after things were in the secular media. I cannot see how his ministry at Wimbledon can maintain its integrity without him resigning, if these things are true. He has breached trust with many people and it is personal and vast.

    For example, I had Jonathan Fletcher (whom I did not know at all) stay at my house as he came to our church to preach (not at my invitation; I was simply the assistant minster and was asked to house a visitting preacher). He slept in the room next to my son. I took it on trust that he was not someone who was offering naked massages to ministry apprentices in the years previously. As did thousands of others. Assuming what is written above is true, Robin Weekes (and presumably many others) knew about this and broke trust endorsing Fletcher’s ministry after they knew of these matters.

    As I said above, I cannot possibly see how conservative Evangelical Anglican ministry in the UK can maintain its integrity without Robin Weekes resigning as a result. Maybe I’m missing something. But as a parent of a 15 year old evangelical Christian young man – there is no way on planet earth I would be sending my son to any camp run by Iwerne, or ministry associated with Wimbledon (which includes Cornhill etc).

  4. There are four men now found to be in the crosshairs: Robin Weekes, Rod Thomas, William Taylor, and Vaughan Roberts https://anglican.ink/2021/03/28/anglican-futures-trustees-statement-on-the-fletcher-reports/. Thomas says, “I did not have any knowledge of his [Fletcher’s] harmful activities” https://bishopofmaidstone.org/2021/03/25/statement-following-publication-of-318-lessons-learned-review-concerning-jonathan-fletcher-and-emmanuel-church-wimbledon/. That is worded in hope of avoiding responsibility: the question at issue concerns what knowledge Thomas et al. had in relation to reports, complaints, rumours etc. concerning the matter. Getting these men to resign, however, is a political solution to a political problem. We might be satisfied with that if we are conservative evangelicals, but not if men are to know that we are the Lord’s disciples John 13:35. It goes without saying that positions of leadership in the Body of Christ are not held by Fletchers’ associates.

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