Whitley Bay vicar Leonard Skinner facing jail after admitting indecent assault against a boy

By Craig Thompson
March 6, 2016

The sign outside New Scotland Yard

A shamed vicar has pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault against a boy in the 1970s.

Leonard Skinner, 79, of North Tyneside , is now facing a possible jail sentence after pleading guilty to the four offences.

Skinner, of Brighton Grove, Whitley Bay, pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault on a boy aged under 14 and two counts of indecent assault on a boy aged under 16 at Highbury Magistrates’ Court.

The offences are understood to relate to when Skinner lived in the south of the UK. He moved to the region following his retirement in 2001 where he has performed “stand-in” duties at local parishes.

Now church leaders in North East have apologised for Skinner’s actions and asked for any other potential victims to get in touch.

The Archdeacon of Northumberland, the Venerable Geoff Miller said: “We offer an unreserved apology to the survivors of the appalling abuse by the Reverend Leonard Skinner and acknowledge their courage in coming forward.

“The Diocese of Newcastle treats all allegations of sexual abuse with the utmost seriousness and expects the highest standards from its clergy, including in retirement.

“As soon as the diocese was told that Leonard Skinner was under investigation by the Metropolitan Police, he was immediately prevented from carrying out any further duties in church.

“Leonard Skinner moved to North Tyneside after he retired from his last post as Priest-in-Charge of a parish in 2001.

“In line with common practice for retired clergy, he was given the Bishop of Newcastle’s ‘Permission to Officiate’, meaning that he was authorised to lead worship in support of the full-time clergy in local parishes.”

The court heard that Skinner, who had been working as a vicar in Grange Park, Enfield between January 1970 and May 1980, befriended a child and had, over a period of time, gained his trust. The abuse happened between January 1972 and June 1975.

A third party reported the allegations against Skinner to police in October 2015 and subsequently detectives from the Sexual Offences, exploitation and Child Abuse Command began investigating.

Skinner was interviewed under caution on 24 November 2015 and subsequently charged on Thursday, 28 January.

Detective Constable John Ritsema, from the Met’s Sexual Offences, exploitation and Child Abuse Command, said: “Skinner used his role in a position of trust, as well as his friendly demeanour, to gain access to his victim. I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the victim in speaking out against Skinner. It was his testimonial that secured the charges and enabled this case to be brought to court.”

Skinner is due to be sentenced at the Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday, 11 March.


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