Paedophile vicar invited back by Church of England to resume duties

Paedophile vicar, 80, was invited back by Church of England to resume his duties despite it knowing he was convicted of molesting boy in 1980s, court hears

  • David Beater, 80, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison on Monday
  • Vicar sexually assaulted two boys, aged eight and 13, between 1982 and 1985
  • Church of England allowed him to resume his duties after his 1985 conviction 

A paedophile vicar was allowed to resume his duties by the Church of England after being convicted of molesting a 13-year-old boy. 

David Beater, 80, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years on Monday for sexually assaulting two boys, aged eight and 13, between 1982 and 1985. 

The clergyman, from Birchington, Kent, resigned from St Botolphs and St Mark’s church in Northfleet, Kent, after he was convicted of abusing the 13-year-old boy, in 1985 and fined £250.  

Despite the Church of England knowing of that conviction in 1985 and his subsequent resignation, Maidstone Crown Court was told he was ‘invited back’ into the ministry and resumed his duties until 2010. 

On Monday, Beater pleaded guilty to five offences relating to the abuse committed between 1982 and 1985.

David Beater, 80, from Birchington, Kent, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison on Monday for sexually assaulting two boys, aged eight and 13, between 1982 and 1985

Judge Philip Statman said his offending ‘constituted a profound and grave breach of trust’. 

‘All these offences cause a sense of public outrage when they come to light.Sexual offending of this kind leaves the greatest of scars upon its victims,’ he added.

The judge also praised the ‘consummate bravery’ of the victims, and further remarked it was not for him to ‘pass judgment’ on the decision by the Church of England to invite Beater back ‘after the passage of time’. 

Beater was also made subject to a five year sexual harm prevention order, barred from working with children and vulnerable young adults, and ordered to sign on the sex offender register indefinitely. 

Prosecutor Sophie Shotton told the court the historic abuse of the two boys only came to light in 2017 and 2018.

One, who was aged around eight or nine years old at the time he was molested, later tried to kill himself and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

‘His mother was keen for him to be introduced to their local vicar, the defendant, with the intention he would be baptised at that church,’ Ms Shotten told the court. 

Ms Shotten said the young boy later attended St Botolphs church where he was molested.

He told police of two further incidents ‘of a similar nature’ which saw Beater sexually assaulting him.

In a victim impact statement to the court, he described how Beater’s depraved acts had affected ‘every facet’ of his life, and left him feeling angry, with low self-esteem and an ‘immense’ sense of guilt.

But he said he hoped by speaking out about child abuse, other victims would find the courage to do the same. 

The clergyman resigned from St Botolphs (pictured) church in Northfleet, Kent, after he was convicted of the assault in 1985

The vicar also resigned from St Mark’s church (pictured) in Northfleet, Kent, after the 1985 conviction but he was later ‘invited back’ into the ministry by the Church of England

The court heard Beater was known for organising sports matches between local boys and invited them to play squash with him.

It was after one such game the second victim was sexually assaulted.   

The victim later told police of the ‘profound’ impact Beater’s abuse had on him, resulting in depression and flashbacks. 

Beater was arrested in April 2018 but gave a no comment interview.  

The court heard his conviction in 1985 for indecent assault post-dated these offences.  

Simon Taylor QC, defending, said there had been no repeat behaviour since because that court appearance 36 years ago had ‘served to rehabilitate him’.

‘He told his employers, the Church of England, he wished to resign from his position and he did,’ he told the court.

‘They invited him back and at all times he has been open about his conviction. He sought counselling and was invited back by the church to act as a vicar.

‘On one view that is extraordinary but he had undertaken the counselling and continued until his retirement in 2005.’ 

The vicar was able to continue working churches and had contact with parishioners until 2010, it is understood. 

The court heard he entered a ‘safeguarding contract’ with the church ensuring his congregation was aware of him being a convicted sex offender.

Mr Taylor said the church had also carried out its own risk assessment of Beater in 2002.

But he added that Beater had shown genuine remorse and acknowledged he now ‘richly deserved’ the inevitable custodial sentence.

After sentencing, law firm Hugh James, representing one of the victims, said: ‘We are pleased that Beater’s conviction today means that our client is finally able to start his recovery process, having suffered over three decades of torment and worry that he would not be taken seriously or believed.

‘Our client’s bravery in speaking out has enabled this dangerous paedophile to be brought to justice.

‘Beater used his position within the ministry to perpetrate his crimes against vulnerable children under a cloak of respectability.

‘However, this also raises important questions about how Beater was allowed by the Church to continue to operate in a position of trust until 2010 despite disclosure by another survivor way back in 1985.

‘We must consider how many other survivors there are still suffering in silence and feel let down by the Church of England.’ 

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