The Church of England "colluded" to hide long-term sexual abuses committed by one of its former bishops, the head of the church said Thursday.
"The Church colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward," Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, following the release of a report on assaults committed by former bishop Peter Ball.
"This is inexcusable and shocking behavior," Welby said.
Ball was jailed for 32 months in 2015 after pleading guilty to misconduct in public office and indecent assaults against teenagers and young men over a period of 20 years.
The report, which Welby called "harrowing reading," found that "the church at its most senior levels and over many years supported him [Ball] unwisely."
Welby apologized to all victims and said that he "fully endorsed" their recommendations.
A London court heard that Ball had made victims strip naked and suggested they submit to beatings, in a number of claims made between 1977 and 1992.