THE stress of “getting to grips” with his new role as an Anglican priest caused Father John Haley Dossor to get to grips with a number of young male members of his parish – and this week Dossor, described here as “one of Ipswich’s most prominent clergymen” was jailed for one year and 10 months.
The former sales director pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault relating to two boys aged 13 and 17.
Dossor also accepted he had abused a third boy between 15 and 20 times, although he was not charged with these attacks.
In Norwich Crown Court Lynne Shirley, pleading mitigation on behalf of the 71-year-old married father of two, said that at the time of the offences Dossor was going through a “very stressful” period.
He was a very huggy and tactile person and clearly he overstepped the boundary. He has lived an unblemished life ever since.
The offences occurred when Dossor of Kirton, near Felixstowe, Suffolk, was working at St Mary’s Church in Hadleigh in the early 1990s.
Prosecutor Charles Myatt said Dossor ran a youth group at the church where he was known as being “touchy feely”. He had previously served as a district scout leader.
The victims complained that he had put his hand down their trousers and groped them on numerous occasions.
In jailing Dossor Judge Mark Lucraft said:
You sexually abused these teenage boys who were committed to your care for recreation and education. As a clergyman you were in a position where people looked up to you and respected you. Parents trusted you with the care of their children.
The judge made a sexual offences prevention order lasting five years and placed Dossor on the sex offenders’ register.
One of the victims told police he had not felt able to report the abuse until later in life because Dossor was “very respected”.
Describing the moment he found out others were also being abused, he added in a statement:
I felt such an idiot allowing it to happen and since I knew it was happening to other people I thought if it wasn’t me it would be somebody else and it became part of my daily life.
When he raised the issue with a friend, he was told:
That’s just what Haley does.
Dossor never used force and, when the boys said they were uncomfortable, he would stop. But, the court heard, the abuse would always begin again.
Some of the six counts were specimen charges, meaning that many more attacks took place.
Dossor, who attended court with his wife of 46 years, was ordained in 1991 after previously working as a sales director at Stephen Walters and Sons silk weavers in Sudbury.
He resigned as a priest when the allegations first came to light in 2009.
After Dossor was sentenced, Gavin Stone, assistant diocesan secretary for the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said:
Bishop Nigel Stock continues to offer unreserved regret and apologies to all those whose lives have been damaged by this individual, fully acknowledging the impact that broken trust by someone in a position of responsibility can have on the lives of all those involved.
Church officials stressed they did not know Father John Haley Dossor had abused two males aged between 13 and 17 on six occasions, until a complaint was made to police in November 2010.
Dossor had denied a further eight indecent assaults – one of which was on a third male, and another charge of sexual assault by touching.
However, the court was also told a fourth male had come forward to make allegations against Dossor.
Prosecutor Charles Myatt said the prosecution and defence were in agreement that Dossor would not stand trial over the new allegations.
The nine charges Dossor denied – which relate to the period between October 1990 and December 2004 – will not be pursued, but will lay on file, the court heard.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn