I CAN see the pain in his eyes.

As he sits in his living room, the walls adorned with original paintings of two stunningly beautiful Lake District valleys, Richard is reliving the terrible day 36 years ago when a trusted Church of England vicar cynically and brutally destroyed his childhood.

Decades have passed but deep anger remains.

Richard’s anger is not for Ronald Johns, the disgraced and later defrocked former Carlisle Cathedral canon who sexually abused him when he was a child. It’s for the bishop who turned a blind eye when Johns finally confessed he was a child abuser.

It was 1993 when the Right Reverend Ian Harland confronted Johns, telling him that a young man had accused the canon of abusing him when he was a boy. The young man wanted an apology.

Astonishingly, Johns admitted his guilt. So what was the bishop’s response? It was not to alert the police, or sack Johns. Instead, the bishop simply sent him to work in Caldbeck.

The horror of Richard’s wrecked childhood was reawakened last month as a former Catholic priest called Peter Turner was jailed for abusing children. He too admitted his abuse – in his case to his abbot.

Like the late Ian Harland, Turner’s superior failed to report the crime. He simply banished the priest to Workington, where he continued his ‘ministry’ – and abused another child.

Articulate, intelligent, and clearly still haunted by his childhood memories, Richard describes how Johns used his exalted position in the church to get what he wanted, leaving his victims to cope with psychological scars that will never fully heal.

“He’d be in his mid 40s then,” says Richard, recalling how he was a boy of 11 when he first met Johns. “You wouldn’t hesitate to say ‘What a superb guy.’ Sometimes he’d just wear a shirt and tie; other times he’d wear a dog collar. He was always laughing and joking; he liked a whisky. He seemed to be a popular uncle figure; people wanted to spend time with him.

“Rooms lit and he’d tell jokes; and he was a little bit racy and there was no hint whatsoever.

“When you’re 11 or 12 you don’t even think about it.”

Worming his way into Richard’s family life, Johns noticed the teenager’s interest in photography – and exploited it as he groomed him, winning his trust. “He understood I had an interest in photography when I was 11 or 12 years old and he had cameras – and said ‘Oh you must come and use these’. It was very subtle; very clever. It was 100 per cent grooming.”

Twelve minutes into the interview, I sense the memories are too raw; too ugly. Noticing one particularly impressive Lake District paintings on the wall behind Richard, I mention it – a brief distraction from the brutal memories of Johns. “I really should take that down,” says Richard. He explains it is a painting of Lake District valley where he lived when Johns abused him. It’s as if that vile abuse has left a stain even on that idyllic place, one of Lakeland most beautiful valleys.

I ask Richard about the trauma he has suffered. “I don’t think I’ll ever be right again,” he says. He never got a personal apology from the bishop who succeeded Bishop Harland, though the Church did offer counselling and compensation of £37,000.

“If you’ve been stabbed or shot there’s an obvious wound. The hardest wounds to sort out in any trauma are those inside the head. Those are the most challenging ones. I try not to get flashbacks. I’ve got to the point that there is a curtain that’s pulled across it.

“It does intrude. It makes a married relationship at times difficult. Not in a physical sense. It’s just at some times you want to be alone. I have a wonderful wife and we’ve been married for 30 years. She’s fully aware but there are times you just want to be on your own. I consider myself to the kindest, most helpful person in the world; I’ll do anything for anyone. But I’d rather have been shot or stabbed and recovered from it and moved on. There isn’t a day that goes by without some form of reference.

“It affects the way that you protect your children; your grandchildren. If a grandchild is going to a football game and you ask: ‘Who’s the referee?’ It makes you ultra-protective.”

I ask Richard whether he still feels anger.

“I actually don’t have anger for him now. That’s gone. I did a long time ago. But I had to realise that if that anger stayed there it would destroy me. I found that a hard thing to do, but I actually pity the man now – and I forgive him.”

Yet Richard (not his real name) is still angered by the bishop’s response to what Johns admitted: to transfer him to Caldbeck, where he worked for a further six years before he was charged. “For me, if there’s any anger left, that’s where it comes from. It was appalling.

“If you’re responsible for a diocese; you’re a bishop and you sit in the House of Lords, and you wilfully place someone in another parish, knowing they’ve admitted sexual offences on minors, as far as I’m concerned that makes him as culpable as Johns.

“I don’t suggest he was involved in any way. Perhaps he was simply just trying to protect the image of the church....Should the Bishop of Carlisle have reported it to the police? Of course he should; absolutely 100 per cent.”

“Could any rational human being say: ‘I know he’s a paedophile... we’ll push him away into a quiet rural community?’ You can’t change the will of a paedophile overnight by moving him geographically. Any compensation, any apology, will never put right what has gone wrong.”

Richard quotes the words of philosopher Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I ask whether not reporting child abuse should be an offence? “Without a shadow of a doubt,” says Richard.

A spokesman for the the Diocese of Carlisle said: “The crimes committed by Ronald Johns were wicked and heinous acts and as a diocese we unreservedly condemn his actions. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those whom he abused and manipulated.

“His was a grievous abuse of trust and we understand that the victims’ hurt is lasting and profound.

“When Johns was sentenced in 2012, we unreservedly apologised to the victims and their families for the diocese’s failure to take the necessary action when his crimes had first come to light in 1993. Again, we would issue that same unreserved apology. The diocese should have contacted the relevant authorities when the allegations of abuse were first made. We are truly sorry that this did not happen, and we understand the justifiable anger that is still felt by those whom Johns abused.”

The statement added that the Church should be safe place for all and the diocese is committed to maintaining robust and effective safeguarding protocols. Detailed safeguarding training is in place. There is currently no law to compel a person in authority to disclose abuse. The NSPCC is on 0808 800 5000; or report abuse to Cumbria police on 101.