Priest jailed for sex abuse of teenager

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The Independent Online

A priest who sexually abused a 12-year-old-boy he encouraged to regard him as a "father figure" was jailed yesterday for five years.

Father William Jacks, 49, a former secretary to the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, carried out the abuse over a four-year period starting in 1987.

Judge David Hodson told the defendant: "You were in a position of huge moral responsibility towards the victim ... As it was you, took advantage of a clearly vulnerable boy who was unsure of his sexuality."

The judge agreed Jacks had not used threats or coercion to make the boy perform sex acts, but had groomed his victim and engineered situations in which they could happen.

At last month's trial, in which a jury found Jacks guilty, his victim, now aged 26, told Newcastle Crown Court he had idolised the cleric. "He was everything to me ... He was a friend, mentor and someone I respected," he said.

Almost 10 years after the last attack, the victim reported the offences after seeing a picture in a Catholic newspaper of the priest working with children.

Jacks, a solicitor in Darlington, County Durham, before entering the priesthood, was convicted of one charge of indecency with a child and three of indecent assault.

He had denied the charges although he admitted having an affair with the boy once he turned 16. Jacks has been placed on the sex offenders' register indefinitely.