A WOMAN has told a national child abuse inquiry how she was sexually assaulted by former Bishop of Chester Victor Whitsey after being invited to his home.

In an emotional testimony, the witness called for ‘mandatory reporting’ of suspected abuse within the Church of England saying one vicar who became aware of her situation failed to escalate the matter.

There is currently no UK law that demands mandatory reporting.

Cheshire Police began an investigation in 2016 after a church safeguarding adviser in Chester passed on details of alleged abuse by Whitsey.

A year later detectives revealed that they would have spoken to him in relation to 10 of the witness allegations if he had been alive.

Whitsey died in 1987.

The woman, who gave evidence to the Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) anonymously on Wednesday (July 3), said she and her brother had been invited to the Bishop’s Palace in the city in the late 1970s when she was 14.

Coming from a religious family, she said she had always seen the bishop as “massively powerful”.

“This really important person lived in a palace, like royalty,” she said. “I remember he was very tall and I remember him enveloping me in a hug and he said ‘you need comforting’. It was a hug that was far too close; it was a whole body hug.”

She said Bishop Whitsey then made a remark about men having “urges” before quoting the Bible, saying: “Suffer the little children to come unto me”.

She continued: “He then sat down in one of the chairs and said would I sit on his knee. My thoughts were that he thought I was a child.”

Breaking down, the woman added: “I knew he then had an erection. He was stroking me through my clothes.

“I didn’t really understand what was going on. Then very suddenly he pushed me away and I got off his knee and that was that.”

She told the inquiry that she had never spoken to anyone about what happened until many years later at a church memorial service when her brother made a comment about having been abused by the bishop.

She then told him the same had happened to her.

The conversation was reportedly heard by the vicar, who chose not to pass the information up the diocesan ranks.

The witness said she had felt shame and guilt. “I felt it was my fault,” she said. “I was angry as well.”

After the police began their investigation into Whitsey, she tried to contact the safeguarding team at the Diocese of Chester but was told the officer was on sick leave.

She told the person it was a personal matter and left her details but no one ever got back to her.

“It should have been flagged as something very important of urgency,” she told the inquiry.

In October 2017 the current Bishop of Chester, Peter Forster, and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, issued a public apology over the Whitsey case.

But the witness said she had never received a personal apology from the church.

She said it was a “candyfloss apology” that hid a “core of deception”.

“This is what I say to my kids: ‘don’t just say you’re sorry; make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

She called for mandatory reporting in the church and investigations to be carried out by an independent body, rather than the current internal model.

“The church is still marking its own homework,” she said. “It is still trying to say ‘oh we will investigate ourselves’. It can’t. There needs to be an independent body.”

She added: “What happened to me destroyed my identity, it destroyed my childhood, and it has destroyed a lot of things since.”