Prince Charles is now being criticized for his “misguided” friendship with a sexual offender bishop decades ago. In a recently released report by the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), the Prince of Wales’ actions at that time was suspected to have influenced how the investigation was handled by the church.

In his 2015 guilty plea, Peter Ball admitted to having abused 17 teenagers and young men for his own sexual gratification. In February 2017, he was released from prison after just having served half of his 32-month sentence.

The report said that the Crown Prosecution Service failed to grab the opportunity of properly charging Ball decades before his 2015 plea. “The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advice to offer him a caution for one offence of gross indecency was wrong, and contrary to Home Office guidance at that time,” the report reads. “Ball could properly have been charged with several other offences in 1992, at least one of which he subsequently pleaded guilty to in 2015.”

The report narrated how ball used his connections with powerful personages to influence the justice system. “Peter Ball seemed to relish contact with prominent and influential people,” the report also stated. “This included royalty and other titled individuals, and heads of well-known public schools. He was frequently described as ‘charismatic’ and an outstanding preacher. Some of these people rushed to support him in the aftermath of his arrest.”

One of the royals who supported Ball in the past was Prince Charles. “I wish I could do more,” the Prince of Wales wrote to the bishop in 1995, “I feel so desperately strong about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you.”

However, Prince Charles later retracted his support after realizing that he, along with others, were just misled by the bishop. “Events later demonstrated beyond any doubt, to my deep regret, that I, along with many others, has been misled,” Prince Charles explained. “I ceased contact with Mr. Ball once the judicial process had concluded, and he was found guilty of serious offenses against young people,” he later added.

The IICSA report blamed the church for failing to protect Ball’s victims. One such victim was Neil Todd, who took his own life, which was blamed in part on the church’s “callous indifference to Neil Todd’s complaints.”

In fact, a senior bishop from the Archbishop of Canterbury was already alerted by Ball’s housekeeper in 1992 after the housekeeper witnessed Ball’s treatment of Todd. “Nothing constructive was done, despite the likely abuse of power by Ball and Neil Todd’s undoubted vulnerability,” the report concluded.

Ball was already released in 2017 after only serving 16 months in prison. The bishop is now in his late eighties and is “deemed too ill to give evidence to the inquiry in person.”

Prince Charles Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, at a Prince's Trust International reception at the Coral Reef Club Hotel on March 19, 2019, in Bridgetown, Barbados. Chris Jackson/Getty Images