UK Methodist Church apologizes for past sexual abuse cases

London — Britain's Methodist Church said Thursday it had found almost 2,000 reports of physical and sexual abuse within the institution over more than half a century, and has apologized for failing to protect the victims.

Martyn Atkins, general secretary of the Methodist Conference, made an "unreserved apology" for the past abuse.

He said the abuse "inflicted by some Methodists on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame to the church."

Atkins said the church would "do all in its power to improve its systems to protect children, young people and adults from abuse within the life of the church and on church premises."

The report, published after three years of research, found 1,885 cases of sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse or neglect going back to 1950. In 26 percent of the cases, church ministers or lay employees were identified as the alleged perpetrators.

The report said there were six ongoing police investigations stemming from the allegations.

The Methodist Church is the latest religious group to face up to a past in which abuse by clergy and others in positions of power was ignored or covered up.

There are about 200,000 Methodist Church members in Britain, where Anglicanism is the major Protestant denomination.