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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Ex-Cumbrian vicar faces child sex charges

A former Cumbrian vicar has been charged with a string of sexual crimes against four boys stretching over 12 years.

Ronald Johns photo
The Rev Ronald Johns

Ronald Johns, 74, is accused of 15 offences, allegedly carried out in the county between 1979 and 1991.

Johns, a former rector in Caldbeck who was also a canon at Carlisle Cathedral, was charged last night following investigations carried out by city detectives.

Police said the church had fully co-operated during the investigation and a special helpline had been set up with the NSPCC.

Johns, who now lives in Kings Road, Coltishall, Norwich, faces three charges of serious sexual assault, six counts of gross indecency and six charges of indecent assault. He will appear before Carlisle Magistrates’ Court on Thursday May 10.

Police said the charges followed allegations of offences committed in Cumbria. It is alleged offences were carried out against four boys aged under 18.

Johns was also a vicar at Borrowdale, canon at Carlisle Cathedral between 1989 and 1993, as well as serving as rector of Caldbeck and Castle Sowerby with Sebergham from 1994.

He retired at the end of 2000 due to ill health.

A statement from the Diocese of Carlisle said: “The Diocese is deeply saddened by the allegations made in the charges against the Reverend Ron Johns.

“We are fully co-operating with the police during this investigation.”

The Diocese said it would not tolerate any abuse and worked closely with police and other agencies if any came to light, adding its first concern was for alleged victims and their families.

The statement added safety in churches was “of paramount concern and we have recently reviewed and are implementing a new policy, which follows national guidance”.

“The cathedral also keeps its policies and procedures under constant review with a robust system of chaperoning.”

It went on to say: “If anyone is affected by this matter we have set up a special hotline with the NSPCC 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, where independent, confidential and sensitive advice can be sought.”

The number is 0808 800 5000.

Calls are free from UK landlines.

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