Jesuits pay for priest's sex case appeal

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The Independent Online
THE Society of Jesus is to pay the legal costs of a self-confessed paedophile to appeal against a conviction, it was confirmed last night.

But the society said the move did not mean it thought Jesuit priest Father James Chaning-Pearce was innocent.

The 57-year-old priest was jailed for five years in September for indecent assault on four of his pupils at Stonyhurst Roman Catholic college in Lancashire.

He admitted assaults on three of them but denied a number of attacks on one boy, now aged 21.

He intends to appeal against that conviction and the Society of Jesus will pay his legal costs, said Fr Ian Tomlinson, Provincial Secretary for Great Britain.

"We are not supporting his appeal because we think he is innocent. He thinks he is innocent and so in some sort of justice he has a right to have that tried, doesn't he?

"We don't go around selecting people to support. He's a member of the society and so a member of a family. He's a member of the society and that's a full-time experience," he added.

"We simply do our best to make sure that we help him to be a person that does not offend again."

At his trial at Preston Crown Court, Judge Reginald Lockett told Chaning- Pearce: "You committed these offences over a period of time when you were in a position of special trust with the boys."

Chaning-Pearce assaulted the four boys, aged between 12 and 16, in his study and in a tree house in the school grounds.

The boy whom the priest denied assaulting told the court he felt "scared and sick" after the attack.

Chaning-Pearce was removed from the school in 1995 when a letter was received complaining about similar behaviour when he was working overseas a decade earlier.

Police were not called in until a year later after parents of one of the boys contacted the school to report an assault.

The judge told the priest he would remain on the national register of sex offenders for life.