Friday, March 25, 2011

Priest re-arrested
Catholic priest re-arrested: he faces more abuse allegations

Bede WalshBy emma king

A CATHOLIC priest at the centre of abuse allegations has been re-arrested on suspicion of similar offences.

Father Alexander Bede Walsh already faces 17 counts of indecent assault and two of serious sexual offences against four boys.

He was arrested on Wednesday regarding further allegations of sexual assault and has been bailed pending inquiries.

In relation to the 19 counts he is charged with, Walsh is alleged to have abused the boys in the 1980s and 1990s when they were aged between eight and 16.

Staffordshire Police charged Walsh on January 11 following a long investigation and he is due to enter pleas at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court next month.

The 57-year-old, from Abbots Bromley, served the parish of Cheadle for 14 years before moving to a church in Oxfordshire in 1999.

He was a governor and chaplain at Painsley Catholic High School, Cheadle, and a governor at its feeder schools.

Walsh had been working as a chef at Aston Hall, a home for retired and convalescent priests in Aston-by-Stone.

The home is run by the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Walsh started working there on a voluntary basis in 2009 until he was charged.

Seventeen of the alleged offences, said to have been committed in Cheadle, Cotton and Chapelfields, Coventry, involve indecent assaults on boys between 1982 and 1994.

The other two charges are for serious sexual offences said to have been committed between May 18, 1985, and May 17, 1986, and May 18, 1986, and May 17, 1987, in Cotton.

It is understood the new allegations relate to three other boys.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "We can confirm a 57-year-old man from the Abbots Bromley area was arrested on Wednesday regarding allegations of sexual assault.

"That person has been bailed by officers pending further inquiries."

Officers are working with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

A spokesman for the CPS said: "We are in receipt of new evidence and the police have submitted a further file for advice in relation to potential new victims, however no decisions have been made."

Walsh was a regular at The Star Inn, at Cotton, near Alton, when he lived at the presbytery at St Wilfred's Church during the 1980s.

Former landlord Peter Warrilow, of Cheadle, said: "It is a very sad affair.

"Father Walsh used to come into the pub.

"He was a jovial man who seemed to get on with anyone.

"He was held in the highest regard by people in the area."

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