April 2018

Ex-church minister and magistrate jailed for abusing boys for more than two decades

AN ex-church minister and Oxfordshire Court magistrate who sexually abused vulnerable young boys for more than two decades has been jailed.

Robert Dando, of no fixed abode, showed little emotion as Oxford Crown Court heard the extent to which he had ‘groomed’ the boys, none of whom can be named for legal reasons, and forced them to engage in sex acts, sometimes on a weekly basis.

Dando had already admitted 13 counts of indecent assault and sexual assault against the seven victims between February 1985 and September 2009.

The 53-year old had used his high standing and position’s of authority, including as a minister at Bicester’s Orchard Baptist Church as well as a governor at Kings Meadow School, Bicester, to carry out the campaign of abuse, the court heard.

At his sentencing hearing yesterday, prosecutor Kim Preston said he had been a ‘leading light’ in the baptist church, a factor he had used to prey on his victims.

She said: “He is a man who it transpired used the church and his position within it to influence those who trusted him with their spiritual guidance and their most precious gifts; their children.”

She told the court Dando would befriend the boys initially through their parents, lavishing some of their children with expensive gifts, first while he was training to be a minister in Cardiff in the 1980s before later carrying out the abuse in Bicester during between 1998 and 2007, and then London’s Worcester Park Baptist Church.

One of the boys was taken out for expensive meals at London’s Harrod’s restaurant and bought gifts including a mountain bike, acts which prosecutors called ‘grooming in its purest form’ whereby Dando ‘bribed’ his victims into engaging in sexual activity.

Among the instances of abuse detailed to the court, it was revealed he also made threats, telling one of his victims he would make up stories of a sexual relationship between the boy and his brother if he told anyone about the assaults.

Many of the victims did not come forward and reveal the extent of the abuse until decades later because they felt they would not be believed due to Dando’s good standing in the community, the court heard.

Speaking of one of the victims Ms Preston told the court: “He described vividly the shame and disgust he felt being under the will of the defendant.

“He felt there was no one he could tell about this and he felt he would not be believed.”

Dando was first caught and later jailed in the US in the state of Virginia in July 2011 after a complaint from a 21-year old that he had abused him between 1995 and 1999 while aged between eight and 13.

During that investigation, a second victim also came forward and said Dando had abused him when he was aged between seven and eight, before UK officers were despatched and carried out their own investigation ahead of his extradition back to Britain, where he went on to admit all charges.

Sentencing, Judge Ian Pringle QC said: “You were a leading light in the baptist church community.

“You were a minister, you became a magistrate, you were charismatic and you gained the trust of virtually every single person that you met within your community.

“For a period of over twenty years you proceeded to grotesquely abuse that trust and abuse a large number of children.

“Your method was to gain the confidence of those that looked after them, their parents, you would spend time looking after them, being someone very authoritative and someone that parents would trust.

“Your purpose was to sexually abuse them and that is what you did in various ways.”

Dando was jailed for a total of nine years and four months and made subject to a sexual harm prevention order stipulating no contact with children indefinitely.

February 2018

Ex-Bicester church minister and Oxfordshire magistrate admits campaign of sex abuse on boys

AN ex-baptist minister, magistrate and school governor has admitted 13 counts of sexually abusing boys over the course of more than two decades.

Robert Dando, of no fixed abode, appeared at Oxford Crown Court today to admit four counts of sexual activity with a child on numerous occasions over a period lasting 24 years.

At an earlier hearing on October 31, the 53-year old admitted eight further counts of indecent assault and another of sexual assault of a child under 13.

The offences relate to numerous instances of sexual abuse carried out between February 1 1985 and September 8 2009 on seven victims.

The male victims, none of whom can be named for legal reasons, were all aged between 10 and 15 at the time.

Dando was previously jailed in July 2011 for eight years after a US investigation following a complaint from a 21-year old that he had abused him between 1995 and 1999, while aged between eight and 13.

During that investigation, a second victim also came forward and said that Dando had abused him when he was aged between seven and eight.

Dando was arrested for the latest offending in August last year before appearing before Banbury Magistrates’ Court.

In Oxfordshire, Dando was a senior minister at Orchard Baptist Church in Bicester as well as a former Oxfordshire magistrate.

He was also previously a governor at Kings Meadow School, Bicester as well as serving as a minister at Worcester Park Baptist Church, in London.

Today’s hearing was adjourned and Dando will be sentenced at the same court at a two-hour hearing on March 22 after a pre-sentence repot and psychiatric report is prepared.

July 2011

Former Worcester Park baptist minister jailed for sexually abusing boys

A Baptist church minister was jailed for eight years for sexually abusing two boys in the United States.

Reverend Robert Dando, a senior minister at Worcester Park Baptist Church, was jailed at court in Fairfax, Virginia, on Friday.

He had previously admitted four counts of sexually molesting the two young sons of family friends over a period of several years.

He sexually abused the boys between 1995 and 1999, from the ages of seven and eight.

He will serve his prison term in the United States.

County officials previously told the Fairfax County Circuit Court one of the victims said Dando molested him by touching his genitals on 50 to 60 different occasions.

Dando, from Sherbrooke Way, resigned from Worcester Park Church after he was arrested in the US in July.

He was also removed from membership of the Boy’s Brigade, in which his wife, Janice, was a vice-president.

A spokesman for Worcester Park Baptist Church said: “Robert Dando (Senior Minister at Worcester Park Baptist Church from 2007 until he resigned July 2010) has been sentenced by Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia to eight years in total for sexually molesting two boys on visits to the USA. He will serve his prison term in the USA.

“Prior to this Robert was the Minister at Orchard Baptist Church, Bicester (1995-2006) and Grangetown BC Cardiff (1990-94) and Associate Minister, Ararat Baptist Church (1988-90).”

“Any allegations made of this nature within a Baptist Union of Great Britain church would be reported to the police and social services immediately.

“We are remembering all of those affected by this situation in our prayers at this difficult time.”

Thames Valley Police are investigating Dando in relation to his time in the UK.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “We are currently following a number of leads and enquiries relating to child protection issues involving Robert Dando that have occurred in the UK.”

A former magistrate in the county, Dando was understood to have been a member of the Oxfordshire Family Panel, which deals with child care and access proceedings.