‘Priests should urge abusers to confess’

Jailed: John Davis was jailed for six years
Jailed: John Davis was jailed for six years
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The diocese of Lancaster has spoken out after it was reported a retired schoolteacher made two confessions to priests that he had sexually abused children – years before being brought to justice.

John Davis, 75, of Fensway, Hutton, was sentenced to six years in prison at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to nine counts of indecent assault on several young girls.

After the case one of his victims said: ““I think it is absolutely disgusting that somehow he feels he can speak to a priest and that makes it all right.”

Adding: “I will have to live with this till the day I die. To me it is typical of the Catholic church and I feel utterly let down.”

Today a spokesman for the Diocese of Lancaster , speaking generally, said priests should advise any abuser who confesses to hand themselves in.

The Diocese covers the Catholic Church in Lancashire, North of the Ribble and Cumbria.

Fr Robert Billing, communications officer for the Diocese of Lancaster said: “The Catholic Church deplores all forms of abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults. Such abuse is a devastating betrayal of trust especially when perpetrated by people who work in the name of the church.

“Any priest who is worth the name would advise an abuser in confession to turn themselves into the police immediately.”

The Evening Post reported on Wednesday that Davis confessed his crimes to a hospital priest when he thought he was on his deathbed - several years before the victims found the courage to report the offences to police.

Davis, who taught at St John Southworth’s RC High School in Grimsargh, then went on to confess to a priest at church when he recovered from his illness and was released from hospital.

The court heard Davis, who uses a wheelchair and has a number of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes, made his confession when he was seriously ill and feared he might die.

But when he was arrested he told officers “it was something and nothing” and although he did not deny the abuse had taken place said the girls had been mistaken about how often it had happened.