Former Devon priest jailed for historic child sex abuse

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Clarke has been jailed for 30 months - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A retired priest from Sidmouth has been jailed after admitting a string of historic sex offences.

Norman Clarke, 93, of Malden Road, who was a Priest-in-Charge in the Diocese of Exeter from 1988 to 1995, as well as having the role of Acting Rural Dean of Ottery between 2002 and 2003, was last week sentenced to 30 months in prison and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register at Leicester Crown Court after pleading guilty to six counts of indecent assault of a minor.

The offences date back to his time when he was a teacher in Leicestershire in the 1970s, when he admitted abusing a young girl from the age of 13 onwards, subjecting her to serious sexual abuse.

Leicestershire Police said the victim came forward in 2019 and Clarke was jailed after appearing at Leicester Crown Court on December 22.

DC Jamie Carr, the investigating officer, said: "The abuse the victim was subjected to has had a profound effect on her adult life.

"What happened around 40 years ago hasn't left her mind. She still thinks about it on a regular basis.

"I hope this case serves as an example to any other victims of sexual abuse that it's never too late to speak out."

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Mr Clarke was Priest-in-Charge of the parishes of Cheriton Bishop, Dunsford and Doddiscombsleigh, from 1988 to 1995.

Following his retirement, he held Permission to Officiate and for a year was Acting Rural Dean of Ottery from 2002 to 2003.

After the sentence was handed down, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Exeter said: “Safeguarding is of paramount importance and the diocese has been working with the police and relevant authorities since these allegations were reported.

“The details of this case are shocking, particularly given the lengthy period of ministry in which Norman Clarke served in Exeter Diocese and other Dioceses since the offences were committed.

“His crimes betray the high standards expected of clergy and church officers.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the survivor of the abuse who has lived with this for so long and all who have been affected by it.

“This news may be upsetting for anyone who knew Norman Clarke during his parish ministry in Devon. If, therefore, you would like to speak to someone in confidence, please contact a member of the Diocese of Exeter’s Safeguarding Team or phone 01392 294975.”