Former Midland Priest Facing Extradition over Abuse Charges

By Mark Cowan
Birmingham Post
February 10, 2009 extradition-over-abuse-charges-65233-22896630/

A former West Midland priest faces extradition from California on suspicion of abusing altar boys more than two decades ago.

Fr James Robinson - who worked across Birmingham, the Black Country, Sutton Coldfield and Coventry in the 1970s and 80s - was arrested by US marshals in the city of Duarte, in Los Angeles County on January 26.

The US authorities have agreed to extradite the 71-year-old back to the UK.

Robinson moved to the US in 1985 amid allegations of abusing boys while training at Oscott College, Sutton Coldfield, as parish priest at St Elizabeth's in Foleshill, and then at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Cradley Heath.

Eight years later he was defrocked.

Details of Robinson's the arrest only emerged today after those who made complaints against him had been informed by police.

At least two Midland men have claimed they were sexually abused as boys by Fr Robinson and were later given compensation by the archdiocese of about 25,000.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "We can confirm that 71-year-old Fr James Robinson was arrested on January 26 in relation to an extradition request.

"The case is being handled by the US authorities who are progressing the extradition request. We have spoken to those people who have made complaints."

According to reports in America, Richard John James Robinson was arrested under an extradition treaty between the US Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the arrest warrant filed in federal court in Los Angeles stated that the charges stemmed from "a chain of sexual abuse starting in approximately 1959 and continuing for decades, even after Robinson was ordained as a priest in 1971".

Robinson is known to have been connected to Holy Family Church, in Small Heath.

Police had previously been prevented from seeking his extradition because California had no treaty with the UK, but this latest move follows a change in the law in the US state.

Three years ago, the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, wrote to Robinson pleading with him to return to Britain and face the allegations surrounding him.

But Robinson, who was barred in 1993 from acting as a priest, emailed back denying he did anything wrong and saying he had no intention of returning to Britain.

Robinson was later said to be working as the caretaker of a trailer park in Los Angeles and in 2003 was tracked down and confronted by one of his alleged victims.

West Midlands Police last year admitted failing to investigate the catholic Church properly over child abuse allegations against the priest following a 20-year campaign for justice by an alleged victim of abuse.

The man, who now lives in Scotland, said police had failed to investigate the abuse properly when it happened, and should have extradited the former priest to face charges.

In February last year, the force said the complaint had been substantiated.


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