Woman’s life ruined by disgraced Preston priest who embedded himself into victim’s families

LancsLive [Preston, England]

April 30, 2021

By Amy Fenton

Cotter pleaded guilty to an additional three counts of assaulting a seven-year-old girl who attended his church between 1972 and 1975

A woman has spoken of how her life was ruined by a disgraced Preston priest who told her she would get ‘a good breakfast’ after he sexually assaulted her.

Edmond Cotter was the priest at St Anthony’s Church in Fulwood in the 1970s and 1980s when he took advantage of youngsters who attended for Mass and Holy Communion.

Cotter embedded ‘himself into the families of his victims’ and abused them over more than a decade.

Cotter, now 74, was jailed for more than five years in 2007 after sexually assaulting 10 girls and one boy between 1972 and 1984. The children were aged between eight and 11 at the time.

At Preston Crown Court today (April 30) Cotter pleaded guilty to an additional three counts of assaulting a seven-year-old girl who attended his church between 1972 and 1975.

Prosecutor Jonathan Dickinson said Cotter had told the girl ‘not to worry’ and said she was ‘special’.

“There are three types of assaults; he placed his hands inside the complainant’s knickers and rubbing himself against her, kissing her on the mouth and, most serious of all, penetrating her vagina and anus with his finger,” Mr Dickinson said.

“The defendant was aged between 25 and 28 at the time and was a priest at the church with particular responsibilities for children of her age.

Edmund Preston
Edmund Preston

“The victim believes that the first time anything happened she was seven, in 1972, she had just received her first Communion, she and the defendant were alone and she says he put his hand down the front of her underwear whilst rubbing himself up against her.

“He told her not to worry as she would receive a good breakfast; a meal provided as a treat for people having their first Holy Communion. He told her she was special and sat her at the top table.

“She said there was further abuse when she was alone with the defendant. He simulated sex by rubbing himself against her and she has a recollection that his penis was hard at the time.

“He would kiss her and put his tongue in her mouth and his abuse of her escalated to him putting his fingers inside her vagina and into her bottom.

“She remembers the pain and felt sore afterwards.”

The court heard the woman told police during her video interview that she felt ‘sad, confused and embarrassed’ at the time of the assaults and did not tell anybody what had happened.

“In 2019 while working in a cafe in London her employer told her a trainee priest was going to start working alongside her and this caused a breakdown and she decided she would come forward and report what the defendant had done to her,” Mr Dickinson added.