Journalist Kenyon on confronting a paedophile priest
- 22 October 2010
- From the section England
As former priest Richard John James Robinson is convicted of sexually abusing boys at churches in the West Midlands, BBC journalist Paul Kenyon describes how he tracked him down in the US and confronted him for a documentary.
Robinson has been convicted of 21 charges relating to offences against six boys aged under 16 between 1959 and 1983.
Kenyon, who had asked one of Robinson's victims to travel with him, challenged the 73-year-old in a trailer park in Los Angeles.
He said: "It had taken several months to track him down.
"We knew he'd left a diocese in Birmingham after allegations he'd sexually abused young boys.
"It seemed that he'd then been whisked away to continue practising as a priest somewhere else, somewhere with a new congregation who'd have no idea of the allegations against him, no idea that he was a threat to children.
"We leafed through leaked documents from inside the Church but the trail went cold.
"Father Robinson had moved on too many times. But finally we had a tip-off he was living in a trailer park in the US.
"By this time we'd spoken to a number of his victims in the UK, men now in their 30s.
"We tentatively suggested to one of them that he might want to come with us, to confront Father Robinson.
"He agreed, and we flew to Los Angeles where it seemed the priest had continued his career for a time before retiring.
"And so it was we arrived at the rather grim and barren trailer park where a paedophile priest from the UK was hiding out.
"When we knocked on the plastic door, he came out confident and smiling, until he realised we were the BBC.
"His victim, standing beside me, began weeping as he simply asked the former priest: "Why? Why did you do it?"
"I remember Robinson trying to justify himself. Not an apology, not even a look of remorse.
"The real issue here though isn't just about one priest and the damage he inflicted on so many young lives.
"It's about the role of the Catholic church and what it really knew about the activities of Father James Robinson and so many other paedophile priests who were able to move from diocese to diocese before allegations about them began to surface."