Churches are blamed for the priest’s suicide over false allegations of sexual abuse
- Father Alan Griffin, 76, who was wrongly accused of sexually abusing children and having sex with men, knowing he was HIV-positive, took his own life last November
- He endured a year of torture over a UK investigation in which he received no information about the ‘unsupported’ allegations against him
- The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, warned of future deaths
- Anyone seeking help can call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or visit Samaritans.org
The Church of England and the Catholic Church have been condemned after a priest erroneously accused of child abuse and having sex with men who knew he was HIV-positive took his own life.
Father Alan Griffin endured a year of pain over an investigation about which he received almost no information.
Coroner Mary Hassell stated that the 76-year-old priest had ‘killed himself because he could not carry out an investigation’ and that the allegations against him were ‘supported by no complaints, no witness and no charges’.
She has written to Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, warning that C of E had still not recognized his mistakes: ‘There is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken,’ she said.
Father Alan Griffin, 76, took his own life after he was wrongly accused of child abuse and having sex with men, knowing he was HIV-positive
The report has also been sent to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England, whose protection team was also criticized.
Father Griffin was the principal of St. James Garlickhythe in the City of London and pastor of the Lord Mayor of London before converting to Catholicism in 2012.
The gruesome investigation into allegations of abuse began in October 2019, after an official in the Anglican Diocese of London withdrew and made a ‘brain dump’ to his archdeacon, including ‘gossip’ acquired over two decades.
Inside, there was speculation that Father Griffin may have used male prostitutes, based solely on the fact that he was seen having dinner with men in an Italian restaurant.
Last June, the Catholic protection team met with Father Griffin, who was gay and HIV-positive, to discuss a background check.
However, they refused to discuss the allegations because ‘the information was not theirs to provide’.
Coroner Mary Hassell wrote to Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, warning that C of E still had not recognized his mistakes
Desperate, the pastor took his own life at his home in East London last November.
In her report, Mrs Hassell wrote: ‘The Church of England had sent a brief written summary of allegations containing inaccuracies and omitting mention of Father Griffin’s previous suicide attempts to learn about his HIV status.’
She spelled out her innocence, adding: ‘Father Griffin did not abuse children. He did not have sex with young people under 18 years of age.
‘He did not visit prostitutes. He did not endanger the lives of others by having sex with people while it was an HIV risk. There was no evidence that he did any of this. ‘
After registering a suicide conviction at an investigation last month, she wrote a report on preventing future deaths to identify shortcomings and try to avoid a similar tragedy.
The Catholic Diocese of Westminster was criticized for not ‘exercising adequate professional control’ over the allegations made to them by the Church of England.
Father Griffin’s family has not yet commented, but described him after his death as ‘a kind and thoughtful gentleman who gave so much to so many with his humor and droll sense of humor’.
The Bishop of London, Lady Sarah Mullally, said: ‘Alan Griffin’s death was a tragedy and my heart goes out to his family for all they have endured.’
Lambeth Palace confirmed: ‘The Archbishop has received a copy of the coroner’s report and the matter will be taken extremely seriously.’