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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
'Father figure' priest jailed
Jacks abused the boy over a four year period
A Catholic priest who abused a 12-year-old boy has been jailed for five years at Newcastle Crown Court.

Father William Jacks, 49, a former secretary to the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, carried out the abuse over a four-year period from 1987.

The attacks took place at the priest's home, in the Bishop's residence and in the presbytery of St Patrick's RC Church, in Felling,Tyneside.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, reported the priest almost 10 years after the last attack.

'Took advantage'

He had spotted a picture of his tormentor in a Catholic newspaper, working with children.

Sentencing Jackson, Judge David Hodson said: "You were in a position of huge moral responsibility towards the victim of your offences.

He was a father figure to me, I worshipped him

Jacks's victim

"It is rightly assumed by people at large that a child in your company would be free from your sexual advances.

"As it was you took advantage of a clearly vulnerable boy who was unsure of his sexuality.

"He regarded you as his mentor yet you abused that trust.

"You have brought shame on your priestly vocation and lowered the regard the public at large had for the priesthood."

'Father figure'

At last month's trial, his victim, now aged 26, told the court he had idolised the cleric.

Jacks went on to work with other children
He said: "He was everything to me. He was a father figure to me, I worshipped him and thought he worshipped me.

The judge agreed that Jacks had not used threats, coercion or force to make the boy perform sex acts, but had groomed his victim and engineered situations in which they could happen.

Jacks, who was a solicitor in Darlington before entering the priesthood, was convicted of one charge of indecency with a child and three of indecent assault.

He was cleared of a fourth indecent assault on the boy.

Jacks was a priest at St Joseph's Church, in Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, when he was arrested and charged with the offences last year.

Letters of support

He denied the charges although he admitted having an affair with the boy once he turned 16.

David Robson QC for the defence, told the judge his client had lost his priesthood, which was the thing he valued most in the world.

Mr Robson said his client had not re-offended and that neither the Church nor the police had received complaints about Jacks from others.

The judge was handed two letters of support from priests and one from a couple who attended Jacks's church.

Jacks has already been placed on the sex offenders' register indefinitely.

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