Police criticised over handling of abuse case

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The Independent Online
POLICE appeared unwilling to investigate allegations of child abuse against a sail training ship skipper who was later jailed for indecently assaulting boys, according to a report published yesterday.

The Devon and Cornwall force rejected the criticism and said it was 'astonished' that it was not consulted during an internal inquiry by Cornwall County Council, which produced the report.

The inquiry was launched after Michael Johnson, 49, was jailed for four years on six specimen counts of indecent assault against two boys aged nine and 11. At his trial in February, Truro Crown Court was told that Johnson assaulted the boys 50 times between June 1989 and November 1991.

He abused them on sailing holidays run by the Cornwall-based Azimuth Trust. Johnson committed the offences on board ship, at his home, and at an authority outdoor education centre he helped run. He corrupted the boys after a council disciplinary hearing in 1987 cleared him of sexual allegations against a boy, but gave him a written warning.

The internal inquiry was launched amid claims by parents that Johnson should not have been allowed to work with children after he was disciplined.

The report's 21 recommendations included one that the area's child protection committee should consider whether the 'apparent unwillingness' of the police to investigate child abuse allegations in 1987 and initially in 1992 could be further examined.

Police said there were inaccuracies in the report. The Chief Constable, Keith Portlock, would be discussing matters with Cornwall's director of social services.

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