Church Hopes Victims Will Come Forward

March 12, 2009

The Anglican Church hopes the jailing of a former youth leader for sexually abusing young boys will prompt more of the man's victims to come forward and seek help.

Andrew William Dawson-Ryan, 60, was jailed for 18 years in the South Australian District Court for offences between 1972 and 1988.

As a leader with the Church of England Boys Society, Dawson-Ryan abused four boys after plying them alcohol, giving them cigarettes and exposing them to pornography.

The abuse occurred mostly on youth camps and started when the boys were aged about 12 or 13.

Dawson-Ryan, of Cumberland Park, was found guilty last year on 12 counts of indecent assault, five counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, gross indecency and procuring an act of gross indecency.

But prosecutors said those offences were just examples of hundreds committed by the man.

During sentencing, Judge Gordon Barrett said Dawson-Ryan had taken advantage of his position of trust and had attracted the boys through the legitimate activities of the society, including camps, riding motorbikes and fixing cars.

"You later plied them with cigarettes and alcohol and in some cases pornography," the judge told Dawson-Ryan.

"They might well have had contact with these things without your intervention, but you exposed them to them at a very young age and, in the case of alcohol, excessive drinking was a regular and prominent feature of your grooming of them.

"You encouraged them to get drunk on camps which you used for your sexual purposes.

"You did not use violence against them, but illicit attractions kept them compliant with your sexual abuse of them until you moved on to the next one.

"The illicit activities helped to secure their silence."

The Anglican Church said it hoped the jail term would help victims and their families move towards healing.

"The diocese is in touch with and providing assistance to seven survivors of Dawson-Ryan's abuse and hopes that the conviction and sentencing may encourage others to come forward and seek help," it said in a statement.

"Any sex abuse survivors who have not yet been assisted by the Anglican Church are urged to get in touch to arrange pastoral and financial support."

Judge Barrett imposed a non-parole period of 10 years.


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