A victim of a retired schoolteacher has spoken of her anger after it was revealed he made two confessions to priests that he had sexually abused children – years before being brought to justice.
Believing he was on his deathbed, John Davis, 75, of Fensway, Hutton, confessed his crimes to a hospital priest several years before the victims found the courage to report the offences to police.
Davis, who taught at St John Southworth’s RC High School in Grimsargh, then went on to confess to a priest at church when he recovered from his illness and was released from hospital.
He later pleaded guilty to nine counts of indecent assault on several young girls.
Judge Heather Lloyd sentenced Davis, of Fensway, Hutton, to six years in prison after Preston Crown Court heard a harrowing account of the sexual abuse he meted out on the teenaged girls – who were not pupils at the school.
After the case, one of his victims said: “I think it is absolutely disgusting that somehow he feels he can speak to a priest and that makes it all right.
“I think he thought if he was going to die he would make his peace with God. I think maybe he should have tried to make his peace with his victims.
“When I confronted him he said I should forgive him because that is what Catholic people do but you can’t forgive somebody who has never shown any remorse.
“I have lived with this for 30 years and the impact on my life is always there. I feel like he has given me a life sentence.
“I will have to live with this till the day I die. To me it is typical of the Catholic church and I feel utterly let down.
“He will believe that he has confessed and been absolved and he will go to heaven.
“It is a comfort to me that the police and the court system have taken this extremely seriously. it will always be there but now he has been given a custodial sentence maybe I can start to leave it behind me”
The court heard Davis, who uses a wheelchair and has a number of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes, made his confession when he was seriously ill and feared he might die.
But when he was arrested he told officers “it was something and nothing” and although he did not deny the abuse had taken place said the girls had been mistaken about how often it had happened.
Judge Loyd said: She said: “To anybody looking from the outside you must have seemed to have been a normal, respectable man, but from the moment you began this abuse this semblance of normality and respectability was effectively a sham.
“At the time you were a churchgoing man and at some time before your victims called the police you confessed to a priest.”
“At the time all this occurred you had a responsible job. You were teaching other people’s children having them in your care and control but from 1979 until your retirement from school you were behaving in an abusive, criminal fashion.
“The fact you were a teacher, a churchgoer and outwardly respectable can only have fuelled concerns that if there was a complaint it would not have been believed.”