Church hit by second child abuse conviction

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A Somerset vicar has been jailed after being found guilty of molesting six boys in assaults stretching over several decades.

Reverend David Smith, 52, of St John's Road, Clevedon, was found guilty of ten counts of indecent assault, one charge of sexual assault on a child under 13 and one of sexual activities with a child.

He was jailed for five-and-a-half years at Bristol crown court, having denied all charges laid against him.

Rev Smith's offences took place on six boys, all aged under 16, at sleepovers at Rev Smith's St John's the Evangelist vicarage and on holidays.

Complaints had been made against Rev Smith in 1983 and 2001. Right Reverend Peter Price, bishop of the Bath and Wells diocese, admitted this evening that the Church was "at fault".

"We're all tainted by it, there's no question of that," he said.

"We have recognised that these offences put us in a position where they have been committed by a man who is in a position of trust and that is devastating for the Church… for us… [and] for the community," he added.

"I want to apologise most sincerely to David Smith's victims and all those who have been caught up in these allegations and now this conviction."

Rev Smith's conviction follows the two-and-a-half year sentence passed on former choirmaster Peter Halliday, 61, from Farnborough, Hampshire, who sexually abused young boys in the 1980s.

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