Paedophile Priest Jailed for Abusing Brothers

The Telegraph [U.K.]
August 31, 2004

A Catholic priest who was allowed to continue working after a church inquiry confirmed that he was a child abuser has been jailed for four years for abusing two young brothers.

William Hofton, 49, a qualified teacher and former school governor, befriended his victims before he "showered" them with gifts, took them on trips, and lavished them with praise as part of his lengthy "betrayal of trust".

He repeatedly abused one of the boys in at least two churches, the boy's home and the showers of his own lodgings, before turning his attention to the 15-year-old's younger brother.

In what is the latest child abuse scandal to engulf the Roman Catholic Church, Hofton admitted seven counts of gross indecency and nine of indecent assault between September 1991 and December 1993.

However, London's Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court was not told that Hofton had, in the 1980s, targeted a 17-year-old boy, who had later confronted his abuser, triggering a remorseful e-mail and the church inquiry.

After the investigation failed to uncover Hofton's abuse of the brothers, he was assessed as being "low risk" and sent to work at a church that was attached to a school.

He remained there until last December when he was arrested for abusing the brothers, who are now adults and were described in court as "leading figures in the community".

Hofton, who worked in dioceses of Westminster, churches in Hertfordshire, Middlesex and London, fought back tears as Judge Fabyan Evans told him that nothing but a "substantial" prison sentence was suitable punishment.

"You indulged in grooming which could have led to far greater offences being committed on the younger victim than in fact occurred," the judge said.

The brothers had been robbed of their adolescence and had experienced difficulties in later relationships.

He said the disgraced priest had "expressed great remorse for your conduct and had made early admissions about it". But he had abused the trust shown in him by the boys, their families and the church.

Hofton, bearded and bespectacled, faces being defrocked following his conviction.


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