Ex-Wigan vicar jailed for child abuse

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A FORMER Wigan vicar has been jailed at the age of 91 for child abuse.

Rev Frank Baldwick is now facing excommunication, having earlier this year been found guilty of two counts of sexual assault against a boy more than 35 years ago.

The frail pensioner, who had denied the attacks at vicarages in both Bolton and Atherton, was sentenced at

Manchester Crown Court and the diocese which oversees his two former parishes says the conviction will ultimately lead to his being de-frocked.

His victim was attacked between the ages of 11 and 13 while Baldwick was vicar of St Michael’s Great Lever and later of St Anne’s Hindsford, Atherton.

The trial heard the victim, who cannot be named, was taken to St Michael’s by Barry Arthurs, a boy six years his senior, where Baldwick bought him food and soft drinks and flattered him.

The youngster was then shown pornographic magazines before the vicar indecently assaulted him.

After Baldwick moved to become vicar of St Anne’s in 1978, Arthurs arranged for the boy to visit again.

This time Arthurs himself indecently assaulted the boy over a five-year period and has previously admitted seven counts of indecent assault and will be sentenced at the same time as Baldwick.

The victim told the jury he only revealed the abuse during a counselling session in 2013.

The court also heard that Baldwick, now of West Bridgford, Nottingham, describes himself as a naturist and had sexual relationships with men while in the RAF during the war and after his wife died 40 years ago.

Arthurs, now 55, admitted seven indecent assaults and was jailed for four years. His defence barrister offered an apology on Arthurs’ behalf to the victim, sayin that Baldwick had encouraged him to do it and he had not been strong enough to resist.

A Diocese of Manchester spokeswoman said: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Frank Baldwick abused the trust placed in him while a serving priest in the diocese and is guilty of these offences. Safeguarding within the church is our highest priority and we strive to create safe environments where children are nurtured and protected.”