British priest jailed for molesting boys

May 4, 2007 at 5:43 PM
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BRISTOL, England, May 4 (UPI) -- A Church of England priest has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for sexually assaulting six boys.

The Rev. David Smith, rector of the church in Clevedon, Somerset, was convicted after a two-week trial in Bristol Crown Court, The Daily Telegraph reported. The case raised questions about the church's handling of abuse since Smith's history of abuse allegedly began in 1976 when he was an assistant housemaster at Douai Abbey, a boarding school near Reading.

David Pearson, the chief executive of the independent Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, told the newspaper he has written Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams asking him to reinvestigate old abuse cases.

"It is of grave concern that someone managed to hold down a post as a vicar with all this going on," Pearson said.

In Clevedon, witnesses said Smith invited boys to stay at the vicarage under the guise of recruiting them to the church choir.

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