Priest found guilty of sex assault on girl aged 13

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The Independent Online
A senior Roman Catholic priest was last night facing jail after being convicted of indecently assaulting a teenage girl after baptising her into his church.

Father John Lloyd, 57, a spokesman for the Archbishop of Cardiff, was convicted of assaulting the girl more than 20 years ago. The jury convicted him of one indecency offence after considering verdicts for nearly 10 hours. They had previously cleared him of four charges of rape and six of indecent assault. They were unable to reach a verdict on a further nine charges of indecent assault.

All the charges, which have shocked the south Wales community in which he worked for three decades, related to allegations dating back more than 20 years. One woman, whose allegation sparked police inquiries, said Lloyd had raped her in the confessional at her school 27 years ago when she was aged just nine.

Cardiff Crown Court was told that Lloyd assaulted a 13-year-old schoolgirl shortly after baptising her. He had driven the girl back to his house where he assaulted her before taking her back to her grandmother. The victim, now aged 37 and one of six adults who said they were assaulted as children, said yesterday: "I would like to say I am pleased at the verdict in relation to my traumatic experience."

Lloyd, a parish priest in south Wales for 32 years and a former primary school governor looked pale and drawn as the guilty verdict was read out.

Judge Mr Justice Rougier remanded him in custody to await sentence next week but warned a jail term was "virtually inevitable" given his position. The maximum possible sentence is two years.

Lloyd had denied four charges of rape and 17 offences of indecent assault covering an 18-year period from 1970.

The Catholic church said Lloyd would not longer be allowed to practise as a priest.

The Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Rev John Aloysius Ward, said in a statement: "I am deeply saddened and ashamed by the events which have culminated today in the conviction of Father John Lloyd. My sympathy and that of the priests and people of the archdiocese goes out to all those who have suffered through his actions and to their families."

Since the trial began, police have received nine further complaints of indecency against Lloyd. Senior investigating officers are believed to be looking into the claims and could question Lloyd further in prison.

Mgr Kieran Conry, director of the Catholic Media Office, said last night: "The conviction of Fr Lloyd shows once more the problem of child abuse is present across our society from the church to the family."