Liverpool Region Sex Abuse Priest Who Blamed His Teenage Victim Jailed

By Chris Bradley
Click Liverpool
June 15, 2012

Peter Hooper

A Roman Catholic priest who told police he had been "emotionally raped" by a 15 year-old boy whom he was caught performing a sex act on has been jailed.

Father Peter Hooper was sentenced to five years in prison after admitting 10 counts of sexual activity with a child during a "clandestine" period of abuse on the boy.

It began in December last year, when the victim, who cannot be named, was just 14 years-old and after being caught told police his victim was "manipulative" and "demanded" sex.

Most of the torrid offences occurred when Hooper, 55, was in the boy's bedroom while his mother, both devout Roman Catholics, was downstairs unaware of what was going on.

Fr Hooper was caught by his partner, Matthew Howard, during a party on 5th May in their home-turned-church on Merseyside and arrested three days later.

At Liverpool Crown Court, bespectacled Hooper walked into the dock wearing a light grey sweater and a scarlet shirt underneath.

The public gallery was filled with 15 supporters, including two priests, from his parish at St Luke's The Physician on Church Road in Bebington, an affluent and quiet neighbourhood on Wirral.

Prosecution counsel Robert Jansen QC opened the hearing and detailed the events that finally ended Hooper's child sex abuse.

Mr Jansen said: "There was a gathering at Mr Hooper's home where the victim was present and another man, Matthew Howard.

"As that social gathering was coming to an end, Mr Howard went outside to smoke a cigarette.

"He had cause to walk past a window and saw Hooper and the boy perform a sex act on each other, then the defendant saw Mr Howard who shook his head in disbelief.

"When Mr Howard asked the defendant what was going on he replied 'I have been seduced by a 15 year-old boy'."

Hooper was arrested on 8th May after a report was made to Merseyside Police and the full extent of how Hooper befriended the boy and his mother to begin his abuse was revealed.

Mr Jansen continued: "In his police interview, the defendant said he was a Roman Catholic priest and a homosexual.

"He had become friends with mother and son when he was playing in a band made up of priests and they played a gig for a charity event."

After the friendship had been struck up, the boy and his abuser began to confide in each other and the boy confessed that he was being bullied at school.

As a result of their closeness, the teenage victim told police he thought of Fr Hooper as a "father figure" who often visited his home and stayed overnight.

One day in the boy's bedroom, the boy told police, Hooper hugged him and kissed him on the cheek but moved to his mouth.

Mr Jansen added: "The victim went on to say the bedroom door was always closed by the defendant whenever sexual activity took place."

Over the six month period the level of sexual activity moved on from kissing to touching to more serious acts.

The court heard the victim was "confused by the events" and blamed himself for allowing Hooper into his life and privy to the adolescent problems he was having.

A number of references, from friends, clergy and parishioners, written in support of the priest who admitted his sexual relationship with a boy were acknowledged.

But Judge David Aubrey interrupted defence counsel Jerry Pactor QC in his rebuttal and quietly retorted: "none of the references make any mention of the victim".

The defence counsel for Mr Hooper continued: "He feels great shame at the damage to the reputation of the church, his father who is in his eighties and his siblings.

"He has lost his good name and is to lose his liberty.

"His fall from grace is massive, my client is a talented and educated man, qualified in drama and psychotherapy.

"He has been a Catholic priest for 20 years, ordained in 1991 and became a priest in 1992.

"He has tried to repress his sexuality due to his faith and no-one seeks to condone his actions despite the support he has received."

Shrewsbury-born Hooper was appointed the priest of St Luke's in Bebington in 2006 after leaving St Werburgh's in Chester.

He was a governor at Christ The King Primary School in Bromborough and St John's junior school in New Ferry.

In a letter written by Hooper read out to the court by his defence counsel, he expressed his full and sincere apologies for his "criminal and abusive behaviour" to his victim and his family.

Mr Pactor added: "Mr Hooper has also expressed relief that this has come out into the open."

Judge Aubrey handed him a five year sentence and a two year sentence to run concurrently and after his release he is to sign the sex offenders register.

An order to disqualify Hooper from working with children has also been imposed to "protect the public from serious sexual offences from you".

Judge Aubrey said: "You have betrayed your religion, you have betrayed your church, you have betrayed you parishioners and most significantly you have betrayed your victim.

"You have betrayed his mother.

"They are both devout Roman Catholics and as a consequence you have challenged their church and their religion.

"The psychological damage is immeasurable, they regarded you as a friend, you were there priest.

"You may not have betrayed yourself, or your true self, and you have an unhealthy attraction to adolescent boys which is hidden beneath your mask of propriety.

"You engaged in an abusive relationship with a 14 year-old boy which continued until he was 15 and you were attracted to him as a 55 year-old man.

"It was a clandestine relationship that you knew he would keep to himself and this court accepts that you knew that only too well.

"You wished to cross the boundary and that was a gross abuse of trust."

After sentencing Hooper was led past his supporters who sat grim faced and tearful as their former priest smiled as he was led away by guards.








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