Former Priest Jailed for Abusing Boys after US Extradition

BBC News
October 22, 2010

James Robinson worked in churches in Staffordshire, Birmingham and Coventry

An "unimaginably wicked" former priest has been given a prison sentence of 21 years for sexually abusing boys in the West Midlands.

Richard John James Robinson, 73, was found guilty of 21 charges relating to alleged offences against boys, all aged under 16, between 1959 and 1983.

One victim told Birmingham Crown Court he had "carried" Mr Robinson's face with him since being assaulted.

Robinson was extradited from the US in August last year.

He worked in churches in Staffordshire, Birmingham and Coventry until the mid-1980s, when he moved to California.

Sentencing him, Judge Patrick Thomas QC, said Robinson was "devious and manipulative".

"The offences you committed were unimaginably wicked and caused immense and long-lasting - we can only hope not permanent - damage to the six victims.

"You used, you abused your position of trust, your position of authority and total trust within the communities that you moved to and from," he said.

Judge Thomas also said Robinson had used his charisma to pick out vulnerable boys and said he enjoyed selecting them.

Sports car

"You enjoyed doing your best to habituate them, to groom them into accepting what you did to them," he said.

"You were, and are, sufficiently devious, manipulative and bold to have got away with a highly risky sequence of sexual encounters over a period of 25 years."

He also criticised Robinson for refusing to return to the UK to face his accusers saying he believed he was beyond the reach of the law."

"Fortunately, the law does not forget, your victims would not forget and you have been brought to justice," he said.

The court had also heard Robinson was paid ?800 per month by the Archdiocese of Birmingham, until December 2001, despite officials being aware of the allegations.

Robinson had said in court he was unable to afford to return to Britain, even though the church had sent him a cheque a ?8,400.

Judge Thomas said it was not for him to judge the Catholic Church's role in proceedings.

"Others may take the view that a full investigation and full disclosure of the results of that investigation is due to the members of that church and Robinson's victims," he said.

The jury deliberated for about six hours before unanimously convicting Robinson.

The court had heard prosecutor John Atwood say Robinson had "something of a knack for spotting the quiet child of the family".

He told the court Robinson was sexually attracted to young boys and used the trust and respect that came with his position to prey on vulnerable children for his own sexual gratification.

The court also heard he used his status as a priest to gain "unfettered and unlimited" access to boys, giving them gifts and taking them on trips in his sports car.

'Different world'

Robinson did not face charges relating to two of the six victims who gave evidence, because they contacted the police after he was extradited.

However, they were allowed to give evidence in support of the other four victims.

The court heard Robinson's behaviour did not appear suspicious to his victims' families because "it was a different world back then".

Robinson took the boys to football matches and rock concerts and some of them stayed overnight at the house he shared with his mother.

The prosecutor said the alleged abuse had left some of the men emotionally damaged and needing counselling in their adult lives.

He said the boys did not speak out at the time because they were bewildered, ashamed and felt they would not be believed.


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