Felixstowe/Ipswich/ Hadleigh: Bishop’s apology over paedophile priest after fourth alleged victim contacts police

SUFFOLK’S most senior cleric last night apologised to victims of a paedophile priest whose sex assaults on teenagers had remained a secret for 20 years.

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.

At the time of the assaults Dossor, of Kirton, near Felixstowe, worked at St Mary’s Church in Hadleigh.

Yesterday at a hearing before Ipswich Crown Court where the 71-year-old’s guilty pleas to the indecent assaults were accepted, it also emerged another alleged victim had contacted police.

The High Church Anglican priest 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 now 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.

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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.

All the accusations were linked to the married father-of-two’s work as a priest.

After yesterday’s hearing The Right Reverend Nigel Stock, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: “I offer unreserved regret and apologies to all those affected by this matter.

“Clergy hold a position of trust and whenever such trust is broken it is widely felt, most of all by those who have been directly affected.

“The Church has learnt much over the years and has in place very high standards of safeguarding in this diocese, which I am sure both the police and the local authority will endorse.

“Whilst these events took place a long time ago it is only right that the Church should acknowledge the broken trust and offer sincere and deep apologies.”

John Howard, spokesman for the diocese added: “As soon as the diocese became aware of this matter for the first time, we informed Suffolk Police and the Local Authority Designated Officer and followed approved procedures, which led to today’s court case.

“All the formal complaints of which we are aware have been dealt with by the court.”

After leaving the parish of Hadleigh, Shelley, and Layham in 2001, Dossor became one of Ipswich’s most prominent clergymen when he moved to St Mary at the Elms in Elm Street.

He officially retired as priest-in-charge in January 2007.

Dossor’s case was transferred to Norwich Crown Court for sentencing.

This will not take place before November 12 in order for a pre-sentence report to be compiled.

Judge Goodin released Dossor on bail, but warned him all options - including prison - were open to the court.