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Suffolk: Retired priest John Haley Dossor jailed for historic sex abuse

PUBLISHED: 18:01 17 December 2012 | UPDATED: 21:38 17 December 2012

Haley Dossor at Ipswich Crown Court

Haley Dossor at Ipswich Crown Court

Archant

A retired Anglican priest who sexually abused teenage boys has been jailed.

Father John Haley Dossor, known as Haley, pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault relating to two boys aged as young as 13.

Norwich Crown Court also heard that Dossor accepted he had abused a third boy between 15 and 20 times, although he was not charged with these attacks.

The offences happened when the 71-year-old, 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.

His tactile nature would “overstep boundaries”, Mr Myatt added.

The victims complained that he had put his hand down their trousers and groped them on numerous occasions.

Jailing Dossor for one year and 10 months, 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 subject 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, Mr Myatt added.

Lynne Shirley, mitigating, said that at the time of the offences Dossor was going through a “very stressful” period as he got to grips with his new role as a priest.

She added: “He was a very huggy and tactile person and clearly he overstepped the boundary.

“He has lived an unblemished life ever since.”

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, the court was told.

After his role in Hadleigh, he went on to become priest in charge of St Mary at the Elms between 2001 and 2007, when he retired.

During that time he played a leading role in helping the community come to terms with the murders of five sex workers in the town by Steve Wright and gave media interviews about the killings.

He resigned as a priest when the allegations first came to light in 2009.

Today, 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.”

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