Lancashire

Upholland school priest guilty of sexually abusing boys

St Joseph's College in Upholland Image copyright Doug Elliot
Image caption Michael Higginbottom will be sentenced on Tuesday

A priest has been found guilty of sexually abusing two schoolboys at a boarding school in the 1970s and 1980s.

Michael Higginbottom, 76, was originally convicted in 2017 of two sexual offences relating to one boy at St Joseph's College in Upholland.

But he faced a retrial at Burnley Crown Court after the original conviction was quashed on appeal. He was also accused of abusing a second pupil.

Higginbottom, who denied all the charges, will be sentenced on Tuesday.

He was found guilty of five counts of serious sexual assault and seven counts of indecent assault.

Both victims said they were abused by Higginbottom, of West Farm Road, Newcastle, in his private living quarters when he was a teacher at the school for boys aged 12 to 18, the court heard.

Higginbottom claimed he could not remember either of the boys.

Prosecutor David Temkin told jurors the boys were both abused "regularly, systematically and horrifically" and threatened with violence and struck with a strap or a belt.

The first victim told police Higginbottom forced himself on him "again and again" in the late 1970s.

The second victim, who came forward after seeing a news report, said he was sexually abused by Higginbottom when he attended the school in the mid-1980s.

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