July 2007

Child sex abuse priest still being paid by Church

A PAEDOPHILE priest who groomed his victims on trips to his family home in Swanage is still being paid, two months after he was jailed for abusing six boys.

Pervert vicar David Smith was jailed for five-and-half-years, but he is still entitled to his £20,000-a-year stipend and is still technically vicar of St John The Evangelist Church in Clevedon, in North Somerset.

The Church of England said it is working to remove him, but revealed that the process can take several months.

Smith visited schools recruiting for the church choir and gained boys’ trust by inviting them to the vicarage to help with their homework or by taking them on trips to Swanage.

Smith’s parents owned a house near the High Street in the seaside town, which he inherited when they died. Police confirmed they visited the property as part of their investigation.

Smith became an abuser while he was working as a housemaster at a Berkshire preparatory school in 1976 and continued after becoming a priest in 1979.

At the trial victims, now adults, but still deeply scarred by their experiences, described how he had assaulted them during sleepovers at the vicarage and day trips to the seaside after he had won their parents’ trust.

Smith was found guilty of 10 charges of indecency, one of sexual assault and one of sexual activity against six boys under 16 between September 1976 and May 2005.

The abuse came to light through the last of his victims, who wanted to become a priest and saw Smith as a mentor. The boy confided in a female parishioner. Police traced other victims, including one who is now a police officer.

A spokesman for the diocese of Bath and Wells said: “We can’t just sack someone who has a parson’s lease on the spot, it takes time.

“We have started the process to remove him and we anticipate this will be completed within the next week.”