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North of England

Vicar at ‘Beatles church’ carried on working after 1989 abuse conviction

todaySeptember 5, 2017 14

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Rev John Roberts, who was based at St Peter’s Church in Woolton, Liverpool, was fined £500 when he was sentenced for two counts of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 1989.

But instead of being defrocked, Roberts was eventually promoted to the position of Canon before he retired in 2013.

His victim, who is now in his 40s, is taking legal action against the Church of England for personal injury caused as a result of the abuse suffered.”It’s disgusting that Roberts was convicted of indecently assaulting me yet was allowed not only to carry on as vicar and then get promoted to Canon,” he said.

“While my life fell apart as a result of what he did to me he was allowed to continue on in the church and get a better status.

“It’s also worrying, as what safeguarding was in place for other vulnerable children against this paedophile? It’s diabolical.”

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has also been granted core participant status in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which is investigating the extent to which institutions failed victims, his lawyers said.

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, the firm representing him, said: “My client was put through a traumatic ordeal by a man he trusted and he believed cared for him. The scars of that abuse have deeply affected his life.

“It is an utter disgrace and completely incomprehensible that once convicted of abusing a child Roberts was allowed to continue working as a vicar.

“Questions need to be answered as to how this scandal was allowed to happen.”

A spokesman for the Diocese of Liverpool and Liverpool Cathedral said he was aware of Roberts’ conviction, adding: “John Roberts has not got permission from the Bishop of Liverpool to officiate at any church service. He cannot conduct the duties of a priest.”

The victim was adopted as a young teenager and met Roberts when he joined the choir at St Peter’s, where Eleanor Rigby – the eponymous figure of the Beatles song – is buried, and a plaque on the church hall commemorates the historic meeting between Lennon and McCartney.

He said Roberts gained his trust, lavished him with gifts, helped him to get into a better school and paid for him to go away on a ski trip.

“I was at the St Peters’ Church Youth Club, where John Lennon played, when he took me into a separate building and abused me. I was so confused and shocked. I was wondering what I had done wrong to deserve this,” he said.

“I thought ‘did I owe him that?’ He got me into a new school and he paid for me to go on a skiing trip. I guess that was for him to do what he wanted to me.”

Police were eventually called in after the boy told another adult and Roberts was convicted of two counts of indecent assault.

He said: “This man, with his manipulative ways was able to play God with my life. I was let down by all of those who were supposed to care for me and this man abused his power and abused me for his pleasure.

“I thought he was there to help me but it became pretty clear that I was there to provide him with a play thing for his satisfaction. He led me to believe he was there to care for me and look after me but all he did was abuse his position.

“How was he able to just carry on with his life and why wasn’t he defrocked? Instead the church gave him extra flocks.

“While his life improved after his crimes I lost everything. I found it difficult for years to get a job and hold it down because of the psychological scars he inflicted on me.

“This man was a paedophile yet the church just let him carry on.”

A vicar at the “Beatles church”, where John Lennon met Paul McCartney, was allowed to carry on working for 24 year after he was convicted of abusing a schoolboy.

Written by: Rufus Olaniyan

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