Friday, December 10, 2010

Church let me down
‘I feel like the church let me down'
By owen evans

A SEX abuse victim has spoken out about her torment at the hands of a priest.

Ex-Oxted resident, Polly Aitken-Vinall, contacted the Mirror after reading our story last month, about a campaign against paedophile priests by Lucy Duckworth, a fellow former Oxted School student.

Mrs Aitken-Vinall, 43, has waived her right to anonymity to explain how she was also abused as an 11-year-old and is willing to support Miss Duckworth's protests.

"I feel as though the church let me down as an 11-year-old girl. I can never forgive them for that," the mother-of-three said.

"It's just a shame that you have to expose yourself and go public about something like this.

"I have tried the police, courts and the churches. It seems like the only people who can really do something about this is the press."

Mrs Aitken-Vinall, who now lives in Kent, saw her tormentor get convicted for indecently assaulting other young girls.

She said: "He was always hanging around us being really creepy when we were at church, touching and fiddling with our bras and stuff."

Her concerns grew after the priest became friends of her parents, and started visiting the family home.

"At one point my mum suffered a slipped disc and had to go to hospital. It was there that he befriended my parents.

"He went to see my mum regularly after she got out and I was furious as I knew there was something wrong about him."

Then, in 1978, as an 11-year-old she was invited to go on a theatre trip to London with the priest.

"I got in the car and had to sit in the front seat. He drove us through the back roads as we made our way to London.

"At one point he suddenly said: 'Your flies are partially undone'.

"I tried zipping them up but they were stuck and it was really awkward to do it in the car.

"He saw what was going on and stopped the car at a layby. He told me to join him behind a hedge and that is where he put his hand in my underwear and abused me.

"I pushed him away as I knew he was doing something bad, but I didn't really have an idea what was going on. I was only 11 years old."

By the time she was 13, Mrs Aitken-Vinall summoned the courage to tell her parents, and they went straight to the police.

She recalled the officers' attitude was "You can't beat the Church".

A year ago she got a call out of the blue from the police asking if she had heard of Lucy Duckworth, who was making a complaint about the same cleric. She was starting a campaign calling on the church to hand over paedophile priests to the authorities.

"I got talking to her and then I saw her story in the Surrey Mirror a couple of weeks ago.

"What she is doing is so important and I just want to support her in what she is doing as I know what she has been through."

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