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Priest found guilty of sexually abusing boy at boarding school

Thu 13 Apr 2017
By Premier Journalist

A Catholic priest has been convicted of abusing a teenage boy while he was a teacher at a boarding school.

Father Michael Higginbottom, 74, was accused of subjecting a teenage boy to repeated sexual abuse when he worked as a teacher at St Joseph's College in Upholland, Lancashire, in the late 1970s.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court took 10 hours and 20 minutes to find him guilty by a majority of 10 to two on all eight counts.

During the trial, which began on Monday April 3, the court heard the victim was aged between 13 and 14 at the time of the abuse.

He said he would be struck with a strap if he did not attend Higginbottom's living quarters, where much of the abuse was alleged to have happened, at appointed times.

The first incident happened about a week after the victim arrived at the boarding school.

He said he was invited into Higginbottom's living quarters and the defendant locked the door and ordered him to undress before sexually assaulting him.

The complainant, now in his 50s, said he had first revealed the allegations to a friend in 2013 and was encouraged by him to go to the police.

In his evidence, Higginbottom said he had no memory of the pupil who made the current allegations, who attended the school for six months.

He denied ever sexually abusing a boy in his care.

The school, which is now closed, was attended by boys aged 11 to 18, many of whom were considering a career in the priesthood.

Higginbottom, of West Farm Road, Newcastle, was remanded in custody.

He is due to be sentenced by Judge Andrew Menary QC at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday.

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