A Birmingham priest who has now been convicted of multiple counts of child sexual abuse was transferred to the US for therapy and subsequently allowed to visit schools and work as a diocesan school inspector despite the archdiocese knowing of allegations against him.
Joseph Quigley, 56, now of Aston Hall, described on its website as “a delightful home for retired and convalescent priests” in Aston, Staffordshire, was found guilty last week of four charges of sexual activity with a child, two of sexual assault, two of false imprisonment and one of cruelty. He is due to be sentenced in January.
The abuse took place while he was parish priest at St Charles Borromeo RC church in Hampton-on-the-Hill near Warwick, between 2006-2009.
During the trial it emerged that other allegations of abuse had been made against Quigley in 2008. These involved contact a sixth form student had with Quigley when he was a school chaplain. The person alleging this abuse was a key witness in the trial.
Prosecutor Adrian Langdale QC told Warwick Crown Court that when this earlier abuse allegation first came to light in 2008, Quigley was removed from his parish and sent to the St Luke’s Institute, a treatment centre for priests based in the US, for six months for therapy. He said the abuse was not reported to the police.
The decision was made when Cardinal Vincent Nichols was Archbishop of Birmingham, and after both the Nolan and Cumberledge Commissions had recommended a serious overhaul of the Church’s safeguarding procedures.
The timeline is that Quigley was removed from parish ministry and sent for professional assessment and therapy in January 2009, following a complaint that had been made in December 2008 about his behaviour with another man, whom he had first met as a sixth form student. He returned to the diocese in the summer of 2009.
Archbishop Nichols was appointed to Westminster Diocese in April 2009 and left the Birmingham Diocese in early May 2009. He played no part in the assignment of Joseph Quigley to “restricted duties”.
The Archdiocese of Birmingham told The Tablet: “The horrendous offences for which Joseph Quigley was tried and convicted pertain to allegations that were first made in 2012. When they were made, the archdiocese immediately informed statutory agencies and the police.
“Records show that, separately, in 2008 a complaint was made, initially by a third party, concerning aspects of a relationship between a man and Joseph Quigley. The man was interviewed and it became apparent that he may have had contact with Joseph Quigley while a sixth form student at a school at which Joseph Quigley was chaplain.”
Asked if the archdiocese reported the abuse to the police, a spokesperson said: “The complaint was considered by the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s safeguarding officer and safeguarding commission. Advice was sought from the police, in the person of a member of the commission who was a serving officer. A serving probation officer was also a member of the commission.”
The decision was made that the matter should be referred to the children’s services manager who had responsibility for those in positions of trust. Joseph Quigley was removed from parish ministry and following assessment was sent, in early 2009, for therapeutic intervention at the St Luke’s Centre in the US, returning in the summer of 2009. No charges were brought against Joseph Quigley in respect of this complaint.”
The Tablet has seen evidence that in December 2009 Quigley celebrated a retirement Mass at a Birmingham primary school, and that he was still visiting schools as an inspector as late as March 2011.
Asked to comment on this, the archdiocese said it had nothing to add to its earlier statement.
A spokesperson told The Tablet that the archdiocese is reviewing its past records in relation to this matter with a view to informing and improving its safeguarding practice and responses.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with all those who have suffered and we acknowledge their courage in coming forward to provide evidence. The archdiocese is committed to best practice in safeguarding, offering a compassionate response to victims/survivors of abuse. The archdiocese will always co-operate fully with statutory authorities in investigating and prosecuting allegations of crimes.
“All allegations and concerns are taken seriously and the safeguarding team works with statutory agencies to ensure they are appropriately responded to.”
Richard Scorer, solicitor at Slater and Gordon who represented several survivors of clerical abuse in the Archdiocese of Birmingham at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, said: “In my view allegations of this kind should be reported to the statutory authorities immediately under a mandatory reporting law, and even on the Archdiocese’s account, we cannot be confident that the matter was properly handled in 2008. I remain unclear why there was no formal reporting to the police at that stage. I am also very troubled by the unwillingness of the Archdiocese of Birmingham to answer questions about Quigley’s activities on his return from the USA – they need to come clean on this right away.”
He added that the fact that some of the decisions were made on Archbishop Nichols’s watch, before he left Birmingham for Westminster, “reinforces my view and that of survivors that he is unfit to lead the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and should step down forthwith”.
All who have suffered or may be suffering abuse are encouraged to report the matter to the police by calling 101 and, if appropriate, to the Archdiocese of Birmingham Safeguarding Team on 0121 230 6240 or by email: [email protected]