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Former Guildford Parish Priest Jailed For Ten Years For Abusing Teenager

Published on: 10 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 10 Jun, 2022


Father Anthony White, known as Fr Tony or ‘FT’ during his time as a parish priest at St Mary’s Church in Rydes Hill, was sentenced to 10 years and six months for abuse of a teenager in Horsham in 1992-93.

By Hugh Coakley

A former Guildford parish priest, Father Anthony White, was sentenced to ten years and six months at Hove Crown Court today (June 10) for indecent assault and buggery against a teenage boy in Horsham in the 90s.

The offences, to which White pleaded guilty in March 2022 in Chichester Crown Court, were committed in 1992-93 while an assistant priest in Horsham West Sussex shortly before he became the parish priest at St Mary’s Roman Catholic church in Rydes Hill, Aldershot Road.

During sentencing, the judge said: “This was a blatant abuse of trust”. At the time of the offence, the 15-year-old victim “was entitled to believe he could trust rather than be abused.”

He continued: “This was not a simple case of anal rape but also two instances of oral penetration.” There was also evidence of psychological harm to the victim and the seriousness of the case was aggravated “by the degree of planning”.

In a small, cramped courtroom, White stared fixedly ahead and showed no emotion as the judge sentenced him to one term of 10-years and six months imprisonment and two terms of five years, for the indecent assaults, to run concurrently. The judge indicated that he can expect to spend at least, two-thirds of the sentence in custody.

A prosecution request to impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order on White was rejected by the judge who said there had been no suggestion of repeat offending in the subsequent 30 years.

St Mary’s Catholic Church in Rydes Hill, where White was the parish priest after the offences were committed

Sussex Police said: “The prosecution followed an investigation by detectives from the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit after a report was received by police for the first time in 2020. The victim has been supported by specially trained officers and officers have had full co-operation from church authorities throughout the investigation

“Detective Constable Yvonne Daddow said: “White got to know the boy when he and his family attended the church. He gradually gained their confidence and the boy started to visit the priest’s address in Horsham on the pretext of doing some jobs around the house.

“However on the first occasion, White plied the boy with drink and then raped him. On further occasions he also committed sexual assaults on the teenager.

“The victim kept these terrible experiences to himself for nearly 30 years and they have had a very serious impact on his mental health and well-being all that time. Only when watching a TV documentary about unrelated cases of misconduct by priests did he feel able to come forward and disclose what had happened to him.

“I would like to thank the witnesses for their time in coming forward to support the police in this investigation.”

A statement by the Bishop of Arundel & Brighton, Richard Moth, said: “I apologise sincerely for the actions of Fr Anthony White. I hope that the sentencing of Fr Anthony will bring some comfort to those who have suffered, although it can never undo the harm they have experienced or the long wait for justice they have had to endure.

“I renew the apologies previously made for the abuse suffered by anyone in the care of those ministering or working on behalf of the church.

“All allegations of abuse are taken seriously and are reported to the police. It is hoped that publicity from a case like this will encourage survivors to come forward knowing that they will be heard, and that justice can be achieved.

“We work to uphold the highest standards of care and protection and are committed to rebuilding trust and confidence in the ways in which we ensure that children, young people and vulnerable adults are kept safe.”

Attempts by The Guildford Dragon NEWS to obtain details from the diocese of what they knew of White’s behaviour before he came to Guildford have been unsuccessful. On Monday, May 9 2022, we asked:

  1. Please provide dates for when Fr Tony White was the parish priest at St Mary’s Catholic Church, 157 Aldershot Road, Guildford, GU2 8BP.
  2. Were any complaints made about Fr Tony White before, during or after his time at St Mary’s Church in Guildford?
  3. What churches did Fr Tony White serve at after he left St Johns Church, Horsham?
  4. There was a statement read out to Guildford parishes from Bishop Richard Moth about the conviction in April 2022. Can we have a copy of the statement? Why did you make this statement?
  5. Was there a statement made when he was charged with a sexual offence in April 2021? If there was not a statement made then, why not?

To date, the diocese has not responded to questions 1), 2 and 3) other than to say they would make a statement when White was sentenced.

Our request for the bishop’s statement (question 4) read out to all parishes after White was convicted have been denied. The diocesan communications officer, Laura Maydew-Gale, said in an email on May 19: “It was important we shared the news with our parish communities, the announcement didn’t go out in written form however. Our written statement will be shared on sentencing.”

In a conversation today, Ms Maydew-Gale said the statement read out to the parishes had been sent to the parishes by email. The Dragon renewed our request to see the statement.

There has been no response to question 5.

Father Anthony White was known as Fr Tony or sometimes as ‘FT’ during his time as the parish priest at St Mary’s. The Dragon has not been able to confirm the exact dates when he was resident in the Guildford parish but it is thought to be around 1995-1997 to around 2003-2005.

A parishioner at the Guildford church who knew White said: “It is an immensely sad situation. I want to know if my children could have been affected. Did the church know of his offences before he was moved to Guildford? I await their response [to The Dragon’s queries].”

Another Guildford parishioner said: “The abuse of power is the saddest aspect. But society cannot walk away from this. Is this a result of the sexual revolution of the 60s?  Were our priests being corrupted in the seminaries?”

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