Former rector Stephen Crabtree jailed for abusing girl

Stephen Crabtree Image copyright Lincolnshire Police
Image caption Stephen Crabtree's actions had a "profound effect" on his victim, said police

A disgraced clergyman who repeatedly sexually abused a 15-year-old girl has been given a three-year jail sentence.

Stephen Crabtree, 59, from Bradford, committed the indecent assaults in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire between April 1992 and April 1993.

The former Church of England minister had previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court.

The Bishop of Lincoln said: "I am very sorry indeed that it has taken so long for proper justice to be served."

Speaking after the hearing, the Right Reverend Christopher Lowson added, the sentence was a "just and appropriate punishment for the appalling abuse to which he subjected a child".

Other allegations

Diocesan safeguarding staff had recently discovered the allegations against Crabtree and immediately passed the information to Lincolnshire Police, the bishop said.

The Church would offer support to anyone who contacted it about issues of harm and abuse and pass all information to the police, he added.

Crabtree, who served as minister in a number of parishes and was rector of Washingborough and Heighington in Lincolnshire between 2002 and 2014, is no longer a practising clergyman.

Det Supt Rick Hatton, of Lincolnshire Police, said Crabtree's "betrayal of trust had a profound effect upon the victim".

"It has taken great courage and a period of time for this abuse to come out."

He said police were currently working in partnership with the diocese to investigate "a number of allegations of non-recent abuse".

He added: "These investigations have come about due to a detailed file review carried out by the diocese and a desire to ensure truth and justice for all past victims of abuse.

"The sentencing of the Rev Stephen Crabtree is as a result of this investigation."

The current operation investigating claims of historical abuse had the "full support" of the bishop, Det Supt Hatton said.

Crabtree, of Ollerdale Avenue, admitted six counts of indecent assault, at a hearing on 4 March.

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