Home Kent News Thanet vicar was ‘invited back’ into Church despite child sex abuse conviction

Thanet vicar was ‘invited back’ into Church despite child sex abuse conviction

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Original article from Kent Live

A retired Thanet vicar who sexually assaulted two young boys in the 1980s has been jailed for four and a half years yesterday (August 23).

A court heard that former Church of England vicar David Beater was appointed to St Botolphs and St Marks in Northfleet when he molested his victims at the vicarage, church and Sunday school, as well as in public showers.

A few years later he had been convicted of a similar offence of molesting a 13-year-old boy while he was still a vicar.

Read more: Disabled girl remains in hospital after being 'stabbed 50 to 60 times' in Sittingbourne

Despite the church knowing about his offending and subsequent resignation, Maidstone Crown Court was told that Beater was 'invited back' into the ministry and resumed his duties until his retirement in 2005.

However it is believed he had permission to officiate for a further five years.

Beater, of Minnis Road, Birchington pleaded guilty to five offences relating to the abuse committed between 1982 and 1985.

The court heard how 80-year-old Beater showed one boy soft pornography while stroking his crotch and saying "I wish you could stay because I want to sleep with you."

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Statman said his offending "constituted a profound and grave breach of trust".

He added: "All these offences cause a sense of public outrage when they come to light.

"Sexual offending of this kind leaves the greatest of scars upon its victims."

The judge also praised the "consummate bravery" of the victims, and further remarked it was not for him to "pass judgment" on the decision by the Church of England to invite Beater back.

Beater has been made subject to a five-year sexual harm prevention order, barred from working with children and vulnerable young adults, and ordered to sign on the sex offender register indefinitely.

Prosecutor Sophie Shotton told the court the historic abuse of the two boys only came to light in 2017 and 2018.

One was aged around eight or nine-years-old at the time he was molested.

He later tried to kill himself and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

She said: "His mother was keen for him to be introduced to their local vicar, the defendant, with the intention he would be baptised at that church.

"David Beater went to their home address and was told about the boy's musical ability and the defendant suggested he come to church with a view to joining the choir.

"He then asked the mother to leave the room, saying he would speak to the boy alone."

St Botolphs in Northfleet where Beater was a vicar

She told the court how David Beater then took him into a room alone where he groped him.

Shotton added: "The victim felt sick at what was happening to him, albeit the assault was short in duration."

The victim told police of two further incidents which culminated with Beater putting his hands down the youngster's trousers outside Sunday school and sexually assaulting him.

Shotten said: "He told police he believed David Beater was testing the waters on him because each time there was more touching, more pressure and, on the last occasion, the abuse moved on to being under clothes."

In a victim impact statement to the court, the victim described how Beater's depraved acts had affected "every facet" of his life, and left him feeling angry, with low self-esteem and an "immense" sense of guilt.

But he said that he hoped by speaking out about child abuse, other victims would find the courage to do the same.

Beater was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court

He wrote: "I tried to rationalise things by telling myself that worse things happened to others and there were probably children in a worse position than myself.

"I now know that what David Beater did to me has affected me through my life.

"I looked up to David Beater because he had an aura of warmth and friendliness about him. My mum thought he was amazing."

The court heard Beater was known for organising sports matches between local boys and invited them to play squash with him.

It was after one such game that the second victim was sexually assaulted in a public shower.

The victim later told police of the "profound" impact Beater's abuse had had, resulting in depression and flashbacks.

He wrote: "I still struggle to talk about what happened because it is extremely painful."

Police spoke to him and he told them of incidents whereby Beater had touched his knee, given him gifts, and taken him to see an 18-rated film when he was 14.

However, the court was told no charges were brought against Beater as a result of that behaviour.

He was arrested in April 2018 but gave a no comment interview.

The court heard his conviction in 1985 for indecent assault post-dated these offneces.

Simon Taylor QC, defending, said there had been no repeat behaviour since because that court appearance 36 years ago had 'served to rehabilitate him'.

He told the court: "He told his employers, the Church of England, he wished to resign from his position and he did.

"They invited him back and at all times he has been open about his conviction. He sought counselling and was invited back by the church to act as a vicar.

"On one view that is extraordinary but he had undertaken the counselling and continued until his retirement in 2005."

The court heard he entered a 'safeguarding contract' with the church ensuring his congregation was aware of him being a convicted sex offender.

Mr Taylor said the church had also carried out its own risk assessment of Beater in 2002.

But he added that Beater had shown genuine remorse and acknowledged he now 'richly deserved' the inevitable custodial sentence.

He said: "On one hand you have depraved acts by a person in a position of trust, a harmful activity that cannot be undone for his victims regardless of the good work Mr Beater did later on in life and his own efforts to rehabilitate himself.

"But here you have someone who abused boys in the early 1980s and in the 36 years since he has not. He has served his community."

Beater was also a vicar at St Mark's Church in Northfleet

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Roberts, from Kent Police, said: "Owing to the position Beater occupied, people naturally trusted him and viewed him as a person to turn to for support.

"He abused this trust in the worst possible way.

"Many years may have passed from the time of the offending, but that does not in any way undo the harm he has caused.

"His offending has impacted each victim’s life in unimaginable ways and it took exceptional courage for each of them to speak to us about their ordeal.

"I am pleased Beater has now been held to account and I sincerely hope this outcome provides the victims with a sense of justice and closure.

"Anyone affected by similar offending needs to know we have specialist officers across the county who will do everything in their power to support them. Please do not suffer alone, contact us so that we can help you."

After sentencing, law firm Hugh James, representing one of the victims, also said: “We are pleased that Beater’s conviction today means that our client is finally able to start his recovery process, having suffered over three decades of torment and worry that he would not be taken seriously or believed.

"Our client’s bravery in speaking out has enabled this dangerous paedophile to be brought to justice.

"Beater used his position within the ministry to perpetrate his crimes against vulnerable children under a cloak of respectability.

"However, this also raises important questions about how Beater was allowed by the Church to continue to operate in a position of trust until 2010 despite disclosure by another survivor way back in 1985.

"We must consider how many other survivors there are still suffering in silence and feel let down by the Church of England.”

Original Article