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Wednesday 23 July 2014

Church to review abuse handling as paedophile investigator is jailed for child porn

David Wilcock

Published 28/10/2011|15:35

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THE CATHOLIC Church said it has conducted a full review of child safety practices in the South West of England after a paedophile abuse investigator was jailed for 12 months for child porn offences.

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Christopher Jarvis, 49, a married father-of-four, was employed by the church in 2002 as a child safety coordinator following the 2001 Nolan Report on abuse by members of the clergy, with a remit to investigate historic claims of child abuse, including interviewing the victims when they were adults.



As a member of the Devon and Cornwall Multi-agency Safeguarding Team, he also worked with police officers and social services and had access to private information about vulnerable victims of child abuse.



But he was arrested in March this year after uploading five images of pre-pubescent boys on to the Ning social networking website.



Police officers who traced him to his home in Plymouth, Devon, found more than 4,000 child porn images on his church-supplied computer and a memory stick, including scenes of child rape. They were mainly of boys aged 10 to 12, but also some of young girls, the court heard.



In a statement released after the court hearing, David Pond, the chairman of the independent Child Safeguarding Commission for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth, said an independent review of child protection across the South West of England, including cases Jarvis had been involved with, had been carried out by the NSPCC charity and found no evidence that he had acted improperly in his role with the church.



"The church is and remains absolutely committed to ensuring that a safe environment exists for all in the church, and the knowledge that Jarvis was himself guilty of such offences has been a great shock to the many people who had placed their trust in him and worked with him to protect vulnerable children and adults," he said,



"He was a fully qualified social worker and came to the role following a competitive recruitment process being of good character and with very good references.



"We need to be continually vigilant and aware of the need to have reliable checks and controls in place to manage the risk to vulnerable children and adults and we will continue to review and improve our responses to all forms of abuse.



"As well as safe systems, we are considering how best to support all those who suffer as a direct result of abuse.



"It is important to remember that the images on the computer screen are not just pictures - they are images of real children being abused, often in the most terrifying of circumstances."



Jarvis' jailing comes days after the Vatican ordered an inquiry into historic sex offences at a London abbey.



St Benedict's School, a private independent Catholic school which is part of Ealing Abbey in west London, has been the focus of allegations of abuse.



The apostolic visitation, as the inquiry is known, is reported to be the first of its kind in Britain.



In October 2009, Father David Pearce, a Catholic priest referred to as the "devil in a dog collar" was jailed for eight years over a string of sex attacks on five young boys, four under 14, at St Benedict's over a period of 36 years.



Earlier this month police revealed they were hunting a Catholic cleric wanted over allegations of child abuse reported to date back to when he taught at St Benedict's.



Father Laurence Soper, who was abbot of Ealing Abbey from 1991 to 2000, failed to return to a police station for questioning. He is believed to have been living in a monastery in Rome and was due to return to London to answer bail in March, but he failed to turn up.



Jarvis, who the court heard was abused himself as a child, was sentenced at Plymouth Crown Court after admitting 12 counts of making, possessing and distributing indecent images at a magistrates' court hearing in July.



The court heard that a chance to catch him three years ago was missed when the son of a friend carried out some work on Jarvis's laptop in 2008 and found search references to "young boys". But that the information was never passed on.



Police who examined the computer after Jarvis's arrest found that, as well as the images, he had searched using terms including "boy love stories" and viewed erotic content about a relationship between a nine-year-old boy and an adult man.



In total 4,389 images were found on the laptop and memory stick seized from Jarvis's house. The majority, 3,721, were at Level One, the lowest level for abusive images.



However there were 120 at Level Four, which includes scenes of child rape, and 12 at Level Five, which can include scenes of torture and sadism.



Diminutive and bespectacled, Jarvis hid his face with his hand from the people in the public gallery for the majority of the hearing.



Passing sentence, Judge Paul Darlow dismissed attempts by the defence to have sentence deferred to allow time for tests to examine whether Jarvis would benefit more from psychiatric help than prison.



Judge Darlow told him that, despite appearing to his work colleagues as "caring, helpful and honest", he had been "elective and cynical" in downloading and distributing child porn.



"You, of all people, were more aware than others of the massive theft of innocence and long-term damage exacted on the children whose images you downloaded for your own sexual gratification," he said.



"In the circumstances, your behaviour was more elective and cynical than might otherwise have been the case.



"It had a deep impact upon the church. In the eyes of the public you had a respectable position in the church.



"The people who confided in you of their own misery and abuse may well themselves be shocked and horrified that the person they were speaking to was, in his personal life, downloading images of children being abused in the same way."



Jarvis, who was fired as soon as he admitted his crimes to police, has been barred from attending any Catholic services in Plymouth.



The court heard he felt "ostracised" by the church since his arrest and had attempted to commit suicide.



Judge Darlow became angry when defence barrister Jo Martin said Jarvis had been left "angry and disappointed" because "he is a man of faith and the Catholic Church will not forgive him".



The court heard Jarvis had refused to sign a "covenant of care" the church requires all convicted sex offenders to sign before they are allowed to rejoin congregations.



Ms Martin said: "He feels ostracised by the Catholic Church and that is why he had decided not to sign the covenant of care.



"He has decided now that he will not go to church. The lack of forgiveness is very difficult for him to deal with as a man of faith."



She argued that, as his offences had not taken place while he worked with the church, he should be treated the same when sentenced as any other person found with child porn.



She also pointed out that all but around 700 of the images were found in the cache system of the computer, which can be automatically downloaded from internet pages being viewed.



She described Jarvis as a man who "compartmentalised" his life behind "defensive shields".



His public work persona was of a caring professional good at his job, while in his personal life he suffered from "low self-esteem and his sense of inadequacy" stemming from his own abuse as a child. It was this, she told the court, that had led him into downloading child pornography.



"I suppose what we are dealing with is a situation where a man won't take down that defensive shield by telling people about the abuse that happened to him," she said.



"To remove that defensive shield would be to destroy him, which is what happened when all this came out."



Jarvis was jailed for 36 weeks concurrently for each of six charges of possessing indecent images of a child and five of making an indecent image of a child plus a further 16 weeks consecutively for a single charge of distributing indecent images of children.



Detective Constable Trevor Strike, who led the Devon and Cornwall Police investigation, said: "What we must remember is that these are images of child abuse in action.



"At the time of offending he had a very respectable position in the Devon and Cornwall Multi-agency Safeguarding Team.



"The Catholic Church is thanked for its immediate action in suspending Jarvis and and giving its full support to the investigation."



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