BREAKING: Former priest convicted of child sex offences

Jonathan Graves SUS-170914-165927001
Jonathan Graves SUS-170914-165927001

An Eastbourne man has been convicted of a series of sexual offences against two boys while he was an Anglican priest.

Jonathan Graves, 60, of Jervis Avenue, Eastbourne, who was a Church of England priest at the time of the offences, was convicted at Hove Crown Court yesterday (Thursday) after a nine-day trial.

Graves was convicted of a number of sexual offences against two boys known to him, while he was priest at St Luke’s Church at Stone Cross in the Diocese of Chichester; offences of indecent assault on a boy in the last 20 years; offences of indecency with that boy during the same period; two offences of cruelty against that boy over the same period; offences of indecent assault, and three of cruelty against another boy more than 20 years ago.

He will be sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Monday.

He was found not guilty of three offences on the two boys and of an offence of indecent assault on a woman.

Detective Inspector Jon Gross said, “The past has caught up with Jonathan Graves. The evidence in this case has revealed how he used his position as a Reverend to select his victims and befriend them before callously abusing them for his own sexual gratification. His crimes have had a lasting impact upon those he abused. The hurt caused by the sexual abuse itself has undoubtedly been compounded by the psychological scars of the abuser being a trusted, and influential figure in each of the victims’ lives.

“I have enormous admiration for the courage the victims have shown in coming forward to the police, and for remaining steadfast in seeing this matter through to conclusion. I hope these verdicts bring some form of closure to them.

“I am also grateful to all those who have supported the police investigation and whose testimony contributed to a successful prosecution of these despicable offences.”

Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss looked into the case of Jonathan Graves in 2010 as part of a review for the Diocese of Chichester looking at previous concerns about several priests.

The report was sent to Sussex Police in 2011. Following a review of all information held by the Diocese on the cases covered, the force began an investigation, Operation Perry, and Graves is the third and last of the priests to be convicted.

The two other clergy, Robert Coles and Gordon Rideout, have already been convicted in separate trials and sentenced to terms of imprisonment.

The Diocese of Chichester co-operated fully with the police throughout Operation Perry, and the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser was a member of the Operation Perry Investigative Management Group.