March 2012

Paedophile Priest Jailed For Abuse Of Boys

 

A Catholic paedophile priest who used his “revered” status to wage a campaign of abuse against vulnerable young boys has been sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Alexander Bede Walsh was convicted last month of 21 sexual offences, spanning a period of 18 years.

The offences took place between 1975 and 1993, during periods Walsh worked at an orphanage in Coleshill, Warwickshire, at a Catholic boarding school in Staffordshire, and at All Souls Church in Coventry.

Six of the victims had attended All Souls School in the city which was linked to the church.

Walsh told the jury part of his duties had been to visit families and take children swimming.

Walsh, who was ordained into the Roman Catholic church in 1979, claimed the victims were lying and were motivated by compensation.

After Walsh’s conviction, Staffordshire Police Detective Constable Tim Bailey said: “He is supposed to be a man of the cloth but he has shown no compassion, no integrity and no humanity.

“He has forced grown men to come to court and relive childhood experiences of sexual abuse.”

Walsh’s crimes came to light when two victims independently contacted police in 2006.

Further complainants came forward between 2008 and 2011, and detectives believe there may be further victims.

One victim, Michael Clifford, who waived his right to anonymity, told Sky News: “I feel very let down because I’ve lost that trust of the Catholic church and him – you are supposed to look up to people in authority.

“It has had a massive bearing on my life. When I first went into the home I was a seven-year-old kid and it happened up until I was 12. I’ve found it hard to hold down a solid relationship with anybody.”

The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, thanked the victims for their courage in bringing Walsh to justice.

The archbishop said: “These are horrendous crimes, and I first want to express my deep sense of shame at what has taken place.

“It is the most serious betrayal of trust. I also want to express my profound sorrow, and deep regret to each of the victims, then children, now adults, for the abuse perpetrated by Father Bede Walsh, whom they and their families trusted as a priest.”

In a direct message to the victims of the offences, Archbishop Longley said: “I thank you for the courage that you have shown in giving evidence to the court in order that these crimes might be brought into the light of day.

“I realise that this has been an indescribably difficult and distressing time for you, your families and friends. I recognise that these crimes can cause deep and lasting damage.

“It is my sincere hope that as a result of this conviction, and with the help of God, you will now be able to begin to take up again the rebuilding of your lives.”

The Archdiocese of Birmingham made clear that Walsh has not been in active ministry as a Catholic priest since 2004 and that the official process to remove his clerical status has now begun.

Walsh resigned from the priesthood after he was convicted of downloading indecent images of children eight years ago.