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Update: Retired priest jailed for historic sex abuse is branded a “sexual predator” by Crown Prosecution Service

PUBLISHED: 05:58 18 December 2012

Father Haley Dossor before he retired from St Mary at the Elm

Father Haley Dossor before he retired from St Mary at the Elm

Archant

IPSWICH/KIRTON/HADLEIGH: A retired priest branded a sexual predator is today starting a 22-month prison sentence for a string of indecent assaults on teenage boys at a church youth group in the early 90s.

Bishop apologises to victims

Dossor, who attended court with his wife of 46 years, was ordained in 1991 after previously working as a sales director at Stephen Walters and Sons silk weavers in Sudbury.

After his role in Hadleigh, he went on to become priest in charge of St Mary at the Elms between 2001 and 2007, when he retired.

During that time he played a leading role in helping the community come to terms with the murders of five sex workers in the town by Steve Wright.

He resigned as a priest when the allegations first came to light in 2009.

Today, Gavin Stone, assistant diocesan secretary for the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: “Bishop Nigel Stock continues to offer unreserved regret and apologies to all those whose lives have been damaged by this individual, fully acknowledging the impact that broken trust by someone in a position of responsibility can have on the lives of all those involved.”

Father John Haley Dossor, known as Haley, pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault relating to two boys, aged as young as 13.

Norwich Crown Court also heard that Dossor accepted he had abused a third boy between 15 and 20 times, although he was not charged with these attacks.

Nikki Miller, reviewing lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, welcomed the jail term.

“We are satisfied that the sentence handed down reflects the serious nature of his crimes and the way in which he abused his position of trust within the community he served,” she said.

“We are also grateful the victims in this case will not have to face a lengthy trial and relive their ordeal at the hands of this man.

“Dossor is a sexual predator and assaulted his victims purely for his own sexual gratification and we are pleased yesterday’s sentence means he will no longer pose a risk to society.”

The offences happened when the 71-year-old, of Kirton, near Felixstowe, was working at St Mary’s Church in Hadleigh in the early 1990s.

Prosecutor Charles Myatt said Dossor ran a youth group at the church where he was known as being “touchy feely”. He had previously served as a district scout leader.

The victims complained that he had put his hand down their trousers and groped them on numerous occasions.

Jailing Dossor for one year and ten months, Judge Mark Lucraft said: “You sexually abused these teenage boys who were committed to your care for recreation and education.

“As a clergyman you were in a position where people looked up to you and respected you. Parents trusted you with the care of their children.”

The judge made a sexual offences prevention order lasting five years and placed Dossor on the sex offenders’ register.

One of the victims told police he had not felt able to report the abuse until later in life because Dossor was “very respected”.

Describing the moment he found out others were also being abused, he said in a statement: “I felt such an idiot allowing it to happen and since I knew it was happening to other people I thought if it wasn’t me it would be somebody else and it became part of my daily life.”

Dossor never used force and, when the boys said they were uncomfortable, he would stop. But, the court heard the abuse would always begin again.

Some of the six counts were specimen charges, meaning that many more attacks took place, Mr Myatt added.

Lynne Shirley, mitigating, said that at the time of the offences Dossor was going through a “very stressful” time in his new role as a priest.

She added: “He was a very huggy and tactile person and clearly he overstepped the boundary.”

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