A former Anglican bishop has been jailed for sexually assaulting teenagers and young men, two decades after the first allegation against him drew public support from powerful figures in Britain.

Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball pleaded guilty last month to misconduct in a public office and indecent assault. Prosecutors say he abused 18 victims, all religious young men or aspiring priests.

The first victim came forward in 1992, but Ball, now 83, denied the allegation. Prosecutors say lawmakers, a lord and an unidentified member of the royal family phoned police or wrote letters of support.

Police reopened the case in 2012, and judge Alan Wilkie sentenced Ball on Friday to 32 months in prison.

The Church of England apologized, saying "there are no excuses whatsoever for what took place."