Victim success in historic sexual abuse case against former church minister

Posted on: 2 mins read
Elinor Rae

Paralegal, Abuse

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A former church minister was recently found guilty and imprisoned for sexual assault on 6 boys. 25 years have passed since the abuse and one of the victims has died since. However, cases like these show it’s possible to achieve justice, even for incidents that happened years ago.

Terence Atkinson, 70, is now retired, but was once a Church of England minister in Grimsby. Before this, he volunteered at various church youth groups before becoming ordained. He showed no reaction as a jury convicted him of nine out of ten charges of sexual abuse in December 2022.

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Guilt for the abuser, not the victims

Six different victims, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, lived with years of trauma after Atkinson took the opportunity to influence, groom and sexually abuse the boys in multiple incidents between 1978 and 1999.

Judge Simon Hirst praised the bravery of the victims, who he said were suffering from “particularly bad consequences” of the abuse they suffered between the ages of 10 and 16. The victims challenged Atkinson’s reputation and spoke out against his supposed “good character…which allowed him to commit these offences”.

It took many years for the allegations to be made, as is common with similar religious sexual abuse cases. The first allegations were made in the 1980s and 90s. Then a break in the proceedings was made after the minister denied the allegations to the police. As more people came forward, Atkinson was interviewed again.

The judge, during sentencing, highlighted the importance of them coming forward to make the allegations, adding that they “should not feel any guilt” about the time passed, and that the guilt should sit with Atkinson. It’s important to note that the judge focused his comments on the victims and their likely thoughts and feelings at that time. Many victims have a sense of guilt after such time has passed since the abuse occurred. This can often prevent people from coming forward to report their crimes. The judge confirmed that it is abusers who should feel this guilt. Victims are commended for their bravery.

Justice after the death of a victim

One of the victims had died since he suffered the abuse, but Atkinson was still found guilty of the charge against him. It is significant that justice has been found despite the victim’s death. Not only have the victim’s experiences been validated, but Atkinson has been imprisoned and is no longer a threat to the public. The abuse and trauma that the victim faced has been acknowledged and will not be forgotten despite his death. Atkinson’s crimes have now been exposed for what they were 25 years on, demonstrating the importance of seeking justice for victims of such crimes.

Retribution for the abuser

Despite the lasting damage on the victims, their courage means the former church minister will now face 10 years in prison, must register as a sex offender for life and is disqualified from working with children again. To protect the public, Atkinson has also been given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

How we can help

Our expert abuse claims lawyers can help with historic cases of sexual and physical abuse such as these. Our compassionate and approachable team members have a track record of supporting survivors on their journey to justice. Get in touch with us for a confidential conversation about the support we can provide.

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