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Retired priest Kevin McGarahan convicted of historic assault

13 May 2016

erasoft24/wikimedia commons

A RETIRED priest was convicted this week of indecently assaulting a teenage girl more than 20 years ago.

The case against the Revd Kevin McGarahan, who is now 64, came to light only in 2014, when the safeguarding officer for Hereford diocese discovered old files relating to the incident.

They showed that Mr McGarahan, who was then at Woodside Church, in Telford, had attacked the 15-year-old at his home in 1995. But it was not until 1998 that her mother told church officials. She requested only that he should be “spoken to” about his conduct. By that time, Mr McGarahan had left the diocese to become an army chaplain. He later went on to work with the British Olympic team.

Jurors at Shrewsbury Crown Court were told that during a visit to the priest’s house he asked the girl about her experience with boys, and offered to teach her how to dance. He held her hips and began to kiss her. The girl said she “froze”, and tried to escape before running home and locking herself in the bathroom to brush her teeth.

A Hereford diocesan spokeswoman said: “At the time, legal advice was sought, and advice taken from what would then have been the diocesan child-protection officer. A full statement was taken from the girl and the family, who only wanted for him to be told off. At that time, those wishes were respected. We would not do that today.” Details were also passed on to the army chaplaincy.

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Richard Frith, said: “A case like this is a reminder of our need to be scrupulous in our safeguarding, and we intend always to be that scrupulous.”

After leaving the army, Mr McGarahan held posts in Oxford and London dioceses, but, when he moved to his current home in Cornwall, in 2007, Truro diocese refused his request for permission to officiate.

He will return to court on 3 June to be sentenced.

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