Priest Cleared of Molestation Charges

Jury accept defence's arguments about 'false memory syndrome'

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A jury has cleared a priest at Ealing Abbey of a charge of indecent assault.

Father Stanislaus Hobbs, aged 76, had been accused of molesting a boy at some point in 1985 or 1986. Fr. Hobbs had been in charge of the choir at the Abbey of which the boy was a member. The boy was aged 12 or 13 at the time of the incident and was a pupil at St. Benedict's School w4ere Fr. Hobbs also taught.

His accuser, now a 33 year old journalist, gave evidence from behind a screen, claiming that he first started to have flashbacks many years later whilst having sex with his female partner. During ongoing psychotherapy further details of the 'assault' emerged in which the priest was alleged to have molested him during confession. The incident was not reported at the time because it was claimed that the trauma was such that it was blanked from his memory. He reported the matter to the Diocesan authorities in 2005 but they referred the case to the police.

The defence's case rested on the argument that the accusations were due to 'false memory syndrome' which has led to many well-documented cases of erroneous abuse claims.

Father Hobbs was born in Ealing and had been associated with St. Benedict's School for over 60 years. During this time there were no other allegations of improper behaviour made against him. Former pupils took to the witness stand to give evidence in his favour.

Fr. Hobbs strenuously denied the incident had taken placed and mouthed a word of thanks to the jury when they found him not guilty.

April 4, 2007