A Christian woman who was raped as a child asked a judge to show mercy on her attacker.
Scout master Gregory Hayes – who now suffers from MS – admitted carrying out two attacks when he was a teenager.
He has now been jailed for five years after Judge James O’Mahony praised the victim for writing a “moving and gracious letter”.
Hayes, 33, of Ram Lane, Hothfield, broke down and wept in the dock at Canterbury Crown Court as he heard about his victim’s kind forgiveness.
In a victim impact statement, she said that despite his actions she wished her attacker “not to be sent to prison".
John Fitzgerald, defending, said Hayes, who now weighs 30 stone, had shown “genuine sorrow".
The court heard that when he was finally confronted by the accusations, he told officers he must have done them because his victim “is a Christian and wouldn’t lie".
The barrister added that despite his obesity and illness, he had spent much of his adult life in the scout and cub movement as a leader – but has since resigned.
“His victim has shown a great deal of sympathy for him and he is petrified of going to jail, as one day in prison would be harder for him than for others, given his conditions...” - John Fitzgerald, defending
He said: “His victim has shown a great deal of sympathy for him and he is petrified of going to jail, as one day in prison would be harder for him than for others, given his conditions.”
He added that his medical condition had also resulted in a temporary period of blindness.
Judge O’Mahony told him: “This is a very difficult sentence for the rape of a child under 13 years.
"But you pleaded guilty and I have read a moving and gracious letter which does your victim a great deal of credit.”
He added that the victim had made a complaint in 2015 and there had been “an inexplicable and unacceptable delay” in bringing the case to court for which Hayes was not to blame.
Hayes bowed his head before waving to his mother, who also suffers from MS, as he was led away.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “No child should ever have to experience the type of abuse Hayes subjected his victim to.
“Her courage in speaking out, along with the compassion she has shown her abuser, are truly remarkable and we hope all appropriate support has been made available.
“Child sexual abuse can have devastating lifelong effects and this case proves that survivors will be listened to when they come forward, no matter how much time has passed.”