Priest pleads not guilty to sex offences

Rev Michael Higginbottom leaves Ormskirk Magistrates' Court
Rev Michael Higginbottom leaves Ormskirk Magistrates' Court

A Catholic priest accused of historical sex abuse at a former Wigan seminary appeared in the dock today.

Father Michael Higginbottom pleaded not guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to six sex offences allegedly involving two young boys in the late 1970s.

The 73-year-old, who now lives in the North East, is currently suspended from St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church, in Darlington.

The priest, who was wearing a dark suit and blue shirt and tie, pleaded not guilty to two offences of indecently assaulting one boy who was aged 12-13.

He also denied two offences of indecently assaulting the other boy, also aged 13 and two offences of buggery against him.

The offences allegedly occurred in 1978 and 1979 at St Joseph’s College in Up Holland when he was teaching there. The seminary closed its doors in the 1990s.

Fr Higginbottom, of West Farm Road, Newcastle, was further remanded on bail to await his trial, expected to last seven days, beginning on September 19.