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Home   Medway   News   Article

Catholic church accused of covering up for priest Malcolm McLennan who abused altar boy at St Simon Stock Church in Walderslade

12 July 2013
by Lynn Cox
St Simon Stock Church in Walderslade

St Simon Stock Church in Walderslade

 
A former altar boy abused by a Catholic priest has accused the church of covering up his crimes.
 
The victim, now in his 30s and with a family, said a bishop told him not to continue "his silly talk" when he originally complained 25 years ago.
 
That was despite the fact Malcolm McLennan already had convictions for gross indecency and had been the subject of complaints alleging he had abused boys at another parish before being moved to St Simon Stock Church in Walderslade.
 
McLennan, now 69, appeared at Medway Magistrates' Court this week where he admitted indecent assault against a minor. He has been sent to the crown court to be sentenced.
 
He already has convictions dating back to the 1970s for indecency involving having sex with men in public toilets and in 2009 admitted indecent assaults involving three boys at another church. 
 
He was jailed for 18 months and placed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.
 
"It seems as soon as an allegation came to light he was just moved from parish to parish, he should have been stopped from being a priest..." - Malcolm McLennan's victim
Following his latest admission, the victim has spoken out about the devastating effect the abuse had on his life and has strongly criticised the church for the way his allegations were dismissed.
 
He said he finally reported his attacker to police following the Jimmy Savile scandal.
 
The man - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - said: "It's disgusting for a religious organisation to not protect the welfare of all its parishioners, especially children.
 
"It seems as soon as an allegation came to light he was just moved from parish to parish, he should have been stopped from being a priest."
 
McLennan admitted molesting an altar boy at a church in Medway around 25 years ago when he appeared in court on Monday.
 
Medway magistrates heard how the then Father Frederick Malcolm McLennan put his hands down the boy's pants and fondled him when he was a teenager at St Simon Stock Church.
 
McLennan was known as Father Malcolm and was an assistant priest at the church in Bleakwood Drive, Chatham.
 
He now works as an infirmary assistant looking after monks at an Abbey in Gloucestershire. 
 
Father Malcolm McLennan was an assistant priest at St Simon Stock Church

Father Malcolm McLennan was an assistant priest at St Simon Stock Church

 
Alcoholic McLennan committed the offence between December 1987 and January 1989 while the boy was changing into his ceremonial robes.
 
The court also heard he had previously been an assistant priest at a church in Tunbridge Wells in the mid-1980s and indecently assaulted three choir boys there.
 
In 2009, McLennan appeared at Maidstone Crown Court where he admitted indecently assaulting the youths at St Augustine's Catholic Church.
 
He abused them at a children's video club, which he ran in his sitting room. Two of the boys he abused were brothers.
 
A third boy did not make a complaint, but McLennan eventually made a confession that led to one of the charges.
 
He was jailed for 18 months for the three indecent assaults and placed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.
 
He already had convictions for gross indecency dating back to 1973, 1977 and 1989 involving offences in public toilets with men.
 
Fr Malcolm McLennan abused an altar boy at his church

Fr Malcolm McLennan abused an altar boy at his church

 
In court this week, prosecutor Debbie Jones said while the altar boy was getting changed McLennan would brush past him and cuddle him.
 
She added: "He came up to him and put one arm round him and then put his hand down the front of his pants.
 
"A few weeks later the defendant took the boy's hand and tried to place it on his penis. It was then the boy ran off and spoke to others."
 
The court also heard the incident was reported to the senior priest at the church, Father Ernest, who then apparently reported it to the area bishop.
 
However, when the bishop saw the boy, he told him he did not want to hear any more of his "silly talk".
 
It is believed both the bishop and Father Ernest are now dead.
 
"He does not recall very much from that time as he was a very heavy alcoholic. He left a few weeks after this and spent four months in rehab..." - Luke Mayer, defending
The incident was not reported to the police at the time, but the boy eventually reported the matter to police and McLennan was arrested in December last year.
 
The prosecutor added: "During interview he told police he couldn't recall the boy and said he never touched him, but has entered a guilty plea today.
 
"He has similar convictions for historic matters which only recently came to light [in 2009]."
 
Magistrates also heard that several weeks after the incident, McLennan, now of Teal Close, Quedgeley, Gloucester, left the parish and did not return to the priesthood.
 
Luke Mayer, defending, said: "He does not recall very much from that time as he was a very heavy alcoholic. He left a few weeks after this and spent four months in rehab.
 
"He has now been alcohol-free for 23 years and has completely changed.
 
"He had a meeting with the bishop at the time but the church did not take the matter further, which was not unusual in the 1980s."
 
Magistrates sent McLennan to Maidstone Crown Court for sentencing.
 
Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the bench, said: "This is a serious matter, you were in a position of trust."
 
McLennan was granted bail until his sentencing.
 
Medway Magistrates' Court in Chatham

Medway Magistrates' Court in Chatham

 
After the case, Archbishop of Southwark Peter Smith said: "The Archdiocese of Southwark is aware that Malcolm McLennan has pleaded guilty to indecent assault of a minor during the period 1987 to 1989, when he was assistant priest in the parish of St Simon Stock, Walderslade.
 
"The Archdiocese greatly regrets the suffering that has been caused to those affected by Malcolm McLennan's behaviour.
 
"McLennan, who lives in Gloucestershire, was removed from public ministry in 1989 at the time of his conviction for gross indecency and formerly stripped of the priesthood (laicised) in 2011.
 
"It was reported at that time that he had previous convictions of which the Archdiocese was unaware."
 
The Archbishop added: "The Archdiocese has co-operated fully with the police in their investigations since the first allegation against Malcolm McLennan was received in December 2006."

For the full interview with McLennon's victim, pick up a copy of the Medway Messenger - out today. 

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