The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) has suspended its founder from acting as a spokesman for the charity while it carries out an investigation.
NAPAC said Peter Saunders, 61, had been suspended so that he could be investigated, after details of an incident from 2008 were reported in the media.
Saunders founded NAPAC in 1997, but stepped down as chief executive in April 2015. He was replaced by Gabrielle Shaw.
NAPAC: 'Suspension will allow a process of investigation'
The charity issued a statement which said: “It is with regret the NAPAC board of trustees has suspended Pete Saunders from his role as founder and spokesperson with immediate effect. This period of suspension will allow a process of investigation into the issues raised by a story published on 25 August 2019 regarding an incident in 2008.
“We will share updates on the outcomes of this process. NAPAC is committed to continuously improving our governance and practices, and the valuable work we do in supporting victims and survivors of childhood abuse remains unchanged.”
The Mail on Sunday reported that Saunders joined a woman and her friend for lunch at a restaurant to discuss the possibility of her working with the charity. It said they drank three bottles of wine between them, which was paid for using the charity’s credit card. Saunders and the woman then went upstairs to the bathroom, where a “sex act” took place.
According to the newspaper, the woman then reported the incident to the police, who questioned Saunders. The Crown Prosecution Service did not proceed with the case.
Saunders told the Mail on Sunday: “The incident was not as [the woman] alleged. It was a totally consensual, albeit drunken encounter, the shame of which I will live with for the rest of my life.”
Government inquiry: Saunders did not disclose 2008 events
Saunders had previously resigned from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), a government inquiry, after failing to disclose allegations surrounding this sexual encounter.
A spokesperson for IICSA said: "The Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel were chosen by IICSA in 2015 after a fair and open competition, at the end of which all successful candidates were expected to complete a declaration around conflicts of interest. Peter Saunders did not disclose to the inquiry the events that happened in 2008.
"The inquiry holds our consultative panel members to the same high standards we expect of our staff. Peter Saunders offered his resignation and we have accepted it with immediate effect."
NAPAC’s income for the financial year ending 31 March 2018 was listed as £395,800 and its spending at £448,100.