A former Catholic priest who molested an altar boy at a Medway church more than 20 years ago has today avoided a jail sentence.
Malcolm McLennan admitted molesting the boy, who is now in his late-30s, when he appeared before Medway magistrates last month.
The 69-year-old was handed a three-year community order at Maidstone Crown Court today.
After the sentence, the victim said: "I am devastated. Justice has not been served."
McLennan admitted indecent assault over the acts he committed while an assistant priest at St Simon Stock Church, in Bleakwood Road, Walderslade, back in 1989.
The court heard how McLennan would rub himself up against the victim or give him a cuddle when the boy was changing into his robes while helping at services.
One day, he put his hands down the youngster's underpants and started to touch him.
He reported the matter and was visited by a bishop the following week, who dismissed his allegations by saying: "We'll have no more of your silly talk."
After reporting the incident to police in the wake of the Jimmy Saville scandal, the victim learned McLennan had previously indecently assaulted three church boys - with the youngest believed to be five - while working in Tunbridge Wells in the mid-1980s.
The court heard how in 2009 he was jailed for 18 months and placed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years for these offences.
The court also heard he had convictions for gross indecency dating back to 1973, 1977 and 1989 involving offences in public toilets with men, but has since turned his life around.
The former alcoholic began to change when he started attending Alcohol Anonymous meetings, the court heard.
Andrew Espley, defending, said McLennan now works as an infirmary assistant looking after ill monks at an Abbey in Gloucestershire, where he has no contact with children.
But his abuse has left a mark on his victim. He is said to have lost his faith and he refuses to let his children play outdoors out of fear.
Speaking exclusively last month, the victim said he wanted the "predatory sex offender jailed".
McLennan - now of Teal Close, Quedgeley, in Gloucester - was instead sentenced to a 36-month community order, with supervision, and a requirement of attending a sex offender programme.
Judge Jeremy Carey said the sentence was a "constructive alternative" to a prison sentence as McLennan had already served a minimum of nine months in 2009 for "strikingly similar sexual offences" and could therefore only sentence him to a few more months in prison.
He told McLennan: "You have been punished as a sex offender. You have not committed further sexual offences for many years and I accept you have been leading a non-criminal life of a positive kind."