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Lincoln priest found guilty of indecent assault on six boys

19 December 2022


Lincoln Crown Court in 2019

Lincoln Crown Court in 2019

A PRIEST has been found guilty of assaulting six boys over a 21-year period.

The Revd Terence Atkinson, 70, of Tetney Road, Humberston, appearing at Lincoln Crown Court on Thursday, was charged with nine counts of indecent assault on six boys aged 10 to 16 between 1978 and 1999. He was originally charged with 13 counts, but this was changed to ten during the trial. He was cleared of one charge against a seventh boy.

Judge Simon Hirst refused an application for bail until Mr Atkinson is sentenced next Friday. He told the defendant: “The jury have found you guilty of all bar one of these offences. You know a prison sentence awaits you, and you will begin it today. You are remanded into custody and will be sentenced next Friday.”

The jury heard that Mr Atkinson had initially been a volunteer at various church youth groups. He was later ordained and served in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area.

Prosecuting, David Webster, said: “He betrayed the trust of these young boys and abused them.”

Mr Atkinson showed no reaction as the guilty verdicts were returned. He will be sentenced on 23 December.

The Acting Bishop of Lincoln, the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, apologised. In a statement on the diocesan website last week, he acknowledged the “appalling crimes [that Atkinson] committed while in positions of responsibility and trust. We understand that this trial will have brought back disturbing memories for the victims of his crimes, their families and those who witnessed the abuse of their friends.”

He continued: “It is deeply shameful that those who were abused have had to spend most of their lifetime dealing with the aftermath of the abuse perpetrated against them. Tragically, for some, justice came too late. The victims and survivors of Atkinson’s horrendous crimes, and the families of those who died before justice could be served, have shown enormous courage. I wish to acknowledge their bravery in speaking out as their extraordinary resilience has enabled Atkinson to be brought to justice and it is thanks to them that he now must account for his actions.”

The diocese was continuing to support the survivors, he said, and offered to meet in person. He added: “The allegations against Atkinson were discovered and immediately acted upon during an extensive church file review. The diocese of Lincoln continues to work collaboratively with statutory agencies ensuring that safeguarding continues to be a priority and central to all areas of our work.”

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