Former Catholic Priest in Court over Abuse Claims

By John Newton
This is Walsall
October 7, 2010

A FORMER Catholic priest this week faced charges of sexually abusing a string of boys, two of whom were from Walsall borough.

James Robinson is being tried on 22 offences allegedly committed during a 24-year period of abuse beginning in the late 1950s.

A Birmingham Crown Court jury heard that ex-boxer Robinson, 73, was "respected, charismatic and charming", gaining the trust of Catholic families as he moved around West Midlands parishes while training to be a priest.

But Robinson, who was ordained in 1971, allegedly had a "dreadful weakness" and preyed on children for "his own sexual gratification".

The court was told that "Father Jim", as he was known, developed a rapport with children by taking them for rides in his sports car before sexually abusing them, leaving some emotionally damaged, traumatised and seeking counselling decades later.

The 22 counts against Robinson, who since the mid-1980s had been living in the USA until his extradition last year, pertain to four men. They did not make complaints until they were adults.

On Tuesday, one man in his 60s described in graphic detail the sex acts allegedly performed on him as a child by the former priest, who wore a hearing aid to listen from the dock.

John Attwood, prosecuting, said of the alleged victims, who cannot be named: "People deal with trauma in many different ways and all the men who will give evidence in this trial have been affected and felt the need to confide in others.

"It has left some of them emotionally damaged and angry."

Robinson, who worked in churches in Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and Staffordshire before moving to California, denies 12 counts of indecent assault, three counts of indecency with a child, five counts of a specific sex act and two counts of attempting it.

Mr Attwood told the court: "This case concerns the repeated and serious sexual abuse of young boys by an older male.

"The evidence you will hear in this case will take you back as far as the late 1950s.

"The charges begin at this time and it is our case that the offending behaviour took place for many years through to the 1980s.

"The man who behaved in this way and sexually-abused young boys trained as, and became, a Catholic priest."

He added: "At the time he was committing these offences, many in the community held Father Jim in high regard.

"He was frequently described as being charismatic and charming. He had a darker side though, because when he was alone with some of these boys he had targeted for special attention, he would sexually abuse them. To the outside world, he had many admirable qualities as a priest, but he had a dreadful weakness too."

The trial continues.


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