Leeds victim of sex abuse choirmaster launches bid for compensation

Date:18th April 2016. Picture James Hardisty. Abuse victim Roy Blanchard, of Leeds.
Date:18th April 2016. Picture James Hardisty. Abuse victim Roy Blanchard, of Leeds.

A Leeds man who was sexually abused by a choirmaster and former magistrate for five years has urged victims of similar offences to come forward as he revealed plans to take legal action over his ordeal.

The abuse Roy Blanchard suffered at the hands of Kenneth Endersby, a choirmaster and organist at St Stephen’s church in Kirkstall, began in 1966 when he was 11.

Kenneth Endersby, who was jailed last year.

Kenneth Endersby, who was jailed last year.

It was only last year that Endersby was found guilty of ten offences at Leeds Crown Court and jailed for eight years.

Lawyers for Mr Blanchard, who waived his anonymity to speak to the YEP, are preparing to issue legal proceedings in the High Court in a bid to get compensation.

They believe the correct defendant is the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of Kirkstall and are in discussions with the Church of England Diocese of Leeds to establish who the correct insurer would be.

Leeds Crown Court was told the victim was called a liar and a “filthy, disgusting and degenerate boy” by Rev Raymond Ward, the local vicar at the time, after his family reported Endersby to the church in 1970.

Roy has shown courage and dignity in the face of everything that he has been through, both across his life and in recent years, and we are determined to help him get the justice he deserves.

Raman Dhillon, Irwin Mitchell

Rev Ward, who has since died, also made veiled threats to Mr Ward’s mother, telling her that life would be made very difficult for her family if she went to the police.

He spoke out to the NSPCC several years ago after moving back to the city and discovering Endersby was not only still the organist at the church but still remained as choirmaster and therefore continued to work with children.

Roy Blanchard has now instructed specialist abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help him take civil legal action in relation to the torment he suffered at the hands of Endersby and gain justice for the impact that the abuse has had on his life.

Raman Dhillon, the specialist lawyer in Irwin Mitchell’s Abuse team who is representing Mr Blanchard, said: “The terrible ordeal that our client endured has affected him for his entire life and is reminiscent of so many recent cases, with many people only having the courage to come forward and speak out about what they have faced many years after it happened.

“While his abuser has been imprisoned, we are now working to compensate Mr Blanchard for the huge impact the abuse has had on him.

“Roy has shown courage and dignity in the face of everything that he has been through, both across his life and in recent years, and we are determined to help him get the justice he deserves.”

Mr Blanchard said: “I truly believe that the abuse I suffered destroyed my life and led me to lose some of my best years.

“I can remember sitting exams at school at the time of what happened and really struggling to concentrate due to what was going on. I have also struggled with alcoholism for a number of years during my life too.

“While the conviction was a moment of great relief, I’m hoping that getting justice regarding what I faced will be an opportunity for me to finally put everything that has happened behind me.”

He added: “I also hope that my story will give others affected by similar problems the courage to come forward and speak out about what they have been through.

“After years of trying to come to terms with it on my own, it was amazing to be able to talk to people who listened to me and were sensitive to what I had been through. No one should suffer in silence.”

A spokesman for the Church of England Diocese of Leeds said: “It is agreed that the PCC is the correct defendant in this matter. We are currently trying to help resolve whether the PCC had relevant insurance in what is an historic case.”

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