Paedophile Catholic priest Philip Temple, 66, above, was today jailed in London for 12 years after admitting the sexual abuse of 13 children dating back to the 1970s.
Temple, a former children’s home worker, was sentenced at Woolwich crown court after pleading guilty to 20 charges of sexual assault in April and a further seven charges this week.
Temple twice stood trial in the late 1990s. In the first case the jury was unable to reach a verdict and Temple was acquitted in a retrial.
Before passing sentence today, judge Christopher Hehir, apologised to one of Temple’s victims, saying that
Justice was not done when you came to court in 1998 and 1999.
The court heard that the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had become a self-harming recluse and had attempted suicide following the trials. He said:
I can only imagine the damage he has caused to other victims. We can never escape from what he did and we can never be free of it.
Temple was “an extremely skilled liar and manipulator with sociopathic qualities”, the victim added.
The judge said there had been another missed opportunity to bring Temple to justice when the youngest known victim, who was six or seven when abused by Temple when he worked for Wandsworth council in south London, began civil proceedings against the council in 1991.
According to Jonathan Polnay, prosecuting, the civil case “appeared to be settled with no payment” and police did not investigate when the victim reported the alleged abuse four years later.
Temple sexually assaulted boys and one girl when working for Wandsworth and Lambeth councils in the 1970s. He became a priest in 1988 and abused two altar boys while serving at Christ the King monastery, Vita Et Pax in Cockfosters, north London, in the 1990s.
The judge said he viewed Temple’s move to become ordained as a Catholic priest as:
An aggravating factor. You of course exploited the opportunities your deceit as to your character had afforded you, not only by sexually abusing children but, as a priest, by lying on oath to deny the truthful accusations brought against you by one of your victims.
Your actions as a priest demonstrated that in truth you were a wolf in shepherd’s clothing.
Detectives from the Metropolitan police’s sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse (SOECA) command launched an investigation after receiving information that implicated Temple in multiple offences.
He was arrested on 6 July last year.
Lambeth council said it was cooperating with the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA). A spokesman said:
We hope the outcome provides some solace to the victims of these dreadful crime.
In a statement, the diocese of Westminster said it was:
Aware of the sentencing of Philip Temple, a member of the Monte Oliveto Benedictine order. The diocese has fully cooperated with the statutory authorities throughout the investigation. The diocese of Westminster has robust safeguarding policies in place and rigorous selection procedures for candidates for the priesthood.
Temple, of no fixed address, also admitted two counts of perjury relating to his earlier trials.