Former priest jailed for abuse

Time of article published Oct 22, 2010

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London - A former Roman Catholic priest was jailed for 21 years for sexual offences against young boys by a court on Friday after his extradition from the United States.

James Robinson, a former boxer and colliery blacksmith, was found guilty of 21 charges of sexual abuse between 1959 and 1983, including offences against two altar boys.

The paedophile used his status as a priest to gain “unfettered and unlimited” access to boys, giving them gifts and taking them on trips in his sports car, the court in Birmingham heard.

Judge Patrick Thomas described the defendant as devious and manipulative, someone who abused his position of trust.

“The offences you committed were unimaginably wicked and caused immense and long-lasting - we can only hope not permanent - damage,” he said during sentencing.

“You enjoyed, I have no doubt at all, selecting your victims, choosing vulnerable children.”

Robinson, whose full name is Richard John James Robinson, fled to the United States in 1985 and was extradited from California last year to face trial.

Brought up near Walsall, he had moved from parish to parish, including the Black Country, Staffordshire, Birmingham and Coventry, gaining families' trust and grooming the youngsters for abuse.

The 73-year-old, who was ordained in 1971, had denied all charges.

Unusually, he did not face charges relating to two of his six victims because they contacted the police after he was extradited, the Press Association reported.

Although extradition law prevented Robinson from being charged with abusing the two victims, they were allowed to give evidence in support of the other four victims.

“I have no doubt there are more victims, not only in this country but in America,” Detective Sergeant Harry May said after the guilty verdicts.

Snap, an independent group supporting victims of abuse by clergy in the US, had highlighted Robinson's case during protests against Pope Benedict's state visit to England and Scotland last month.

They had handed out leaflets urging Catholics to ask friends and family if they had been assaulted by Robinson.

Robinson had moved to the US after the first complaint had been made in the mid-80s, police said.

“Over the following years there were many letters from the Church to Robinson, asking him to come back, but clearly Robinson didn't want to return to the UK,” said Detective Chief Inspector Steve Bimson, who headed the British Major Investigation Team.

Nobody from the Archdiocese of Birmingham was immediately available for comment. - Reuters

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