05 September 2017
Beatles Church Vicar Abused Schoolboy – And Was Then Allowed Back to Work
A vicar at the ‘Beatles church’ where Paul McCartney met John Lennon repeatedly abused a teenage schoolboy - and was then allowed to carry on working as a reverend.
Rev John Roberts was convicted of sexually assaulting a vulnerable 15-year-old boy in 1989 and was fined £500.
But instead of being defrocked Rev Roberts, who was based at St Peter’s Church, Woolton, in Merseyside, where Eleanor Rigby – the title of a Beatles song – is buried, was eventually promoted to the position of Canon. He retired in 2013.
His victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was devastated when he heard his attacker had not been kicked out of the church following his conviction and had a further 24 years working as a vicar.
He said: “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. 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.”
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.
The victim, who is now in his 40s, was adopted when he was a teenager and met Rev Roberts when he joined the choir at St Peter’s. Roberts took him under his wing, paying particular interest in him.
The victim said: ““He would tell me that he would give me the love that I needed and wasn’t getting from my adoptive parents. I actually believed and trusted the man. He was the person that I put all of my remaining trust into and he betrayed me.”
When he fell out with his adoptive parents he was placed in the care of Roberts who put him in a Catholic care home “which was more like a prison” for eight months.
He said: “I didn’t hear anything for eight months and then he turned up with a watch for me and told me how much he had missed me. He then said I needed to come to his house for counselling. He was always telling me that he loved me and that he cared for me.”
As well as lavishing the boy with gifts Roberts also helped get him into a better school and paid for him to go away on a ski trip.
“It was about six or seven months later that it all came to a head,” the victim added. “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.
“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.”
The boy eventually confided in another adult and the police were called in. Roberts was convicted of two counts of indecent assault.
The victim 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.
Questions need to be answered as to how this scandal was allowed to happen.
“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.”
The victim is now taking legal action against the Anglican Church.
Richard Scorer a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, which represents Roberts’ victim, 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.”
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