Devon

Plymouth pupils used Facebook to accuse 'abuse' priest

Canon James Wilson
Image caption Canon James Wilson was a lay reader in the Church of England at the time of the allegations

A priest who taught at a Plymouth primary school was accused of abuse after former pupils contacted each other on the networking site Facebook.

Church of England canon James Wilson fondled children during reading lessons, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

A former pupil's memory was triggered by a TV item about abuse by clerics.

Canon Wilson, 62, of The Rectory, Calstock, denies 16 indecent assaults between 1974 and 1981 against seven girls and four boys aged six to nine.

Andrew Oldland, prosecuting, said the first complaint came after a woman saw a television programme about child abuse by the clergy and became upset.

'Pulled her back'

She said she and other pupils were abused after they were called forward to read to him or to the class.

He said: "At that age she did not know it was wrong. She didn't like it much but when she tried to stand away from him he pulled her back towards him."

Having spoken to the police, she contacted others who were at school through Facebook.

Mr Oldland said she did not disclose what had happened to her.

"The witnesses come back time after time after time with the same description of the same sort of offending," said Mr Oldland.

Canon Wilson was a lay reader in the Church of England at the time of the allegations, but later became a deacon in 1982 and a priest in 1983.

He has since been a priest at parishes in Plymouth, Plymstock, Lifton, Saltash and Yelverton.

The case continues.

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