England

Father James Robinson's abuse victim 'thought it was love'

Ex-Catholic priest Richard John James Robinson who was accused of sexually abusing young boys
Image caption Father Jim was tracked down to a caravan site in the US and brought face to face with a victim in 2005

A victim of a former Roman Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing boys between 1959 and 1983, said he thought he was in love with the man who called himself Father Jim.

Richard John James Robinson, 73, originally from Aldridge in the West Midlands, encouraged the altar boy with gifts, outings and rides in his sports car.

"I was so much in love with the man. Everything was planned. We were going to run away together. He told me that he loved me as well."

About three years later the now adult victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, began to suspect he had been used, when he found out Robinson was seeing other boys.

"I was just broken hearted. He was my first love, if you like."

The effects of the abuse stayed with him for decades.

'Pure evil'

Robinson was found guilty of 21 charges relating to offences against six boys in the West Midlands parishes he had worked in.

He changed parish often and worked in Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham, Staffordshire as well as various places in Wales.

He chose his victims whenever the opportunity arose, meeting them through the church, at a butchers and through the elder brother of a boxer.

Another of the men who testified against the former priest said he was scared about giving evidence.

"I thought my voice was going to break down in court, that I would stutter or stammer," he said.

"I've had nightmares about this case it has been horrible."

He said the sexual abuse made him doubt his sexuality and for years he thought he was gay and only realised when he was older that he was not.

Now married with children he said: "Eventually I will forgive him. At least I am still alive, thank God I am still here."

He said he hoped Robinsons' conviction would give his other victims the strength to come forward.

"I believe there's a lot more children who haven't come forward to speak out, the silent ones."

A victim he met by offering him a ride on his motorbike said: "He's pathetic. Yes he's an old man and has probably got a dickie heart but he is pure evil. I don't feel sorry for him."

'Helpless fear'

All six boys shared the feeling they alone had been chosen, or singled out for special attention, and were unaware for many years their abuse had been a shared experience.

Image caption Father Jim moved regularly to escape his victims and accusers and emigrated to the US in the 1980s

After abusing another boy during a trip to Snowdon, in north Wales, Robinson drove him back and greeted the victim's parents "as though nothing had happened".

The victim said: "I felt absolute confusion, fright, disgust, even at 11 I liked girls and I knew this wasn't right.

"There was a real feeling of helplessness. I knew I couldn't say anything.

"The fear of saying anything was almost as bad as what had happened to me."

The last time it happened, the priest dropped him back home as before.

"I ran upstairs, went into my sister's bedroom and put my feet against the door and tried to block it out.

"My mum and dad were saying 'come down and say goodbye', but I just couldn't. My sister was asking why not but I just couldn't go there with her."

TV revelation

He told his family some time later, but said ignorance was the reason he had not immediately informed police.

He eventually reported the abuse seven years ago after watching a BBC Kenyon Confronts programme, which had tracked Robinson down in the US and brought him face to face with another of his victims.

"That blew me away because I realised I had not been on my own all these years. In 2003 I realised I wasn't the only one," he said.

Det Ch Insp Steve Bimson, of West Midlands Police said Robinson was a "calculating, callous individual".

"On the other hand he gave the impression to quite a lot of people that he was a caring member of the community. He became a priest and fulfilled a role as a priest for a number of years.

"He used that role to become part of the community and ingratiate himself with families so that he could groom young boys."

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