Bristol Church Pastor Admits Sexually Abusing Boy, 14

The Post
May 19, 2012

James Hennah

A LAY pastor and school counsellor has admitted abusing a 14-year-old boy.

James Hennah, aged 39, was also a magistrate before being suspended when the allegations came to light in October.

He admitted two offences of sexually touching a child and one of voyeurism when he appeared before Exeter Crown Court yesterday.

Hennah, of Rossiter's Lane, St George, was a pastor with the Bristol Community Church, where he ran their Energy programme targeted at young people. The law graduate was a counsellor at two secondary schools and at Bristol University, where he also taught counselling.

He admitted two offences of touching a 14-year-old boy on the bottom between 2008 and 2009 and one of gaining sexual gratification by watching a young person taking part in a private act.

Hennah denied a fourth charge of sexual activity with a child, which dated from 2010 when the complainant was 15. The prosecution agreed to offer no evidence on that count.

Judge Graham Cottle adjourned the case for sentencing.

He ordered Hennah to sign the sex offenders' register immediately and said a Sexual Offences Prevention Order will be imposed at the sentencing hearing next month.

He granted Hennah unconditional bail but warned him that did not mean he would avoid a jail sentence when he returns to court.

David Sapiecha, prosecuting, said the offences involved deliberate touching.

"We say this is an offence committed in gross breach of trust," he added.

Robert Duval, defending, said he needed time for references and reports to be prepared.

Mr Duval said: "He is well aware of the powers of the court and has made no attempt to contact the complainant."

Hennah was a prominent member of the Bristol Community Church in Kingswood until his arrest.

He was a counsellor at Bristol Grammar School, where the head teacher wrote to parents to reassure them that none of the allegations related to current or former pupils.

He was sworn in as a magistrate in October 2010 but resigned earlier this year.

Bristol Community Church, formerly known as Bristol New Covenant Church, was formed in the early 1980s and is based at Bourne Chapel on Waters Road, Kingswood.

After the Post first revealed details of Hennah's arrest in February Justin Humphreys, of The Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service, said: "James Hennah was relieved of all duties within the church pending the outcome of the police and children's services investigations and has since resigned his position and is no longer an employee of the church."


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