Former vicar jailed for three more years for indecent assaults

A former vicar already serving a nine-year sentence for sexual abuse has been jailed for a further three years.

John Roberts, 89, was imprisoned in December 2020 for nine counts of indecent and sexual assault committed against three victims in the 1980s, 2000s, and 2010s. He was also ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

The victims came forward in 2018 to say Roberts had abused them – one had been sexually assaulted as a boy in the 1980s by Roberts while he worked as a vicar in the Woolton area, one was a child in the early 2000s, and one was in adult in the 2010s.

Following publicity around his case, another male came forward to report he too had been victim of Roberts when he was aged 10-13 in the 1970s.

Roberts was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault against the boy on Wednesday and was sentenced on Thursday, 6 June, to three years in prison, to be served consecutively to his original sentence.

In his victim personal statement, the victim said, “I’ve been driven by anger and disbelief that long after my abuse at the hands of John Roberts, he had continued to abuse others in the most despicable ways; one article in the press and after just a few minutes, I was ringing a police helpline. The long journey to get here had begun.

“I wanted him to look inwardly at the face of the monster that he is and the widespread and the emotional damage that he has caused others. Regrettably instead, in his denials he has shown absolutely no remorse, no acknowledgment of what he is and no concern or compassion for those he has harmed. 

“For his entire career, he has pedalled his lies with talk of sin, repentance and truth. I’m appalled that he has shown no intention of following his own guidance. From the pulpit, he has instructed his parishioners in how they should behave.

“Yet here in this court, he has used the words ‘I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give will be the truth’. How dare he say this? What a cynical disregard of what that oath actually means? How dare he use his God to disguise the real monster that he truly is; monstrous acts on vulnerable helpless children over decades. I cope with it in a fashion, but I speak for those that didn’t.”

Detective Constable David Tweedle said, “The victim in this case has had to live with the pain and suffering Roberts inflicted on him for decades. That hurt will go on, but I hope today’s result provides them with some comfort.

“The victim trusted Roberts because of the position he held in the Church, and Roberts abused that trust in the most heinous way.

“Today’s result in court will not undo the impact of Roberts’ actions, but I hope the victim and his family takes some sense of justice from it.

“He has shown immense courage to come forward and speak about the hurt Roberts caused and the problems he has faced since.

“I would like to pay tribute to that bravery and the dignity he has shown throughout the court process.

Det Con Tweedle added, “I’d also like to thank officers and our partners in the Crown Prosecution Service for their efforts to pursue a further conviction against Roberts.

“Time should never be a barrier to obtaining justice and Merseyside Police takes every single report of sexual offences extremely seriously.

“I want to reassure any victims out there, whether they were abused recently or decades ago, they will be believed and action will be taken to bring their attacker to justice.

“We have dedicated officers trained to thoroughly investigate sexual assault allegations and make sure those reporting them are properly supported.

“I’d like to reassure anyone who has suffered a sexual offence that if you can find the courage to come forward and speak to us, we will deal with you sensitively and make sure reports are properly and thoroughly investigated.”

If you want to report a sexual offence whether recent or not, please DM @MerPolCC or message on Facebook at ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’.

Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at:

Image: Merseyside Police

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