Manchester

Retired Catholic priest cleared of Rochdale sex assault allegations

St Vincent de Paul RC Church in Norden, Rochdale Image copyright Google
Image caption Father Mortimer Stanley was accused of targeting most of the complainants in his presbytery at St Vincent de Paul RC Church in Norden

A retired Catholic priest has been acquitted by a jury of sexually assaulting nine girls and one boy.

Father Mortimer Stanley, 82, denied 19 indecent assaults allegedly committed in Rochdale between 1977 and 2002.

He was accused of targeting most of the complainants, aged under 11, in his presbytery at St Vincent de Paul RC Church in Norden.

Judge John Potter has recorded not guilty verdicts on two counts at Manchester Crown Court.

'Totally untrue'

The court heard jurors had been unable to reach a verdict on one of the counts but prosecutor Andrew Mackintosh said the Crown would not seek a retrial and a not guilty verdict was recorded.

The judge said another count involving a 10th female complainant who was too unwell to give evidence during the trial would also be recorded as not guilty.

Fr Stanley said children would often climb on his knee of their own accord, but nothing inappropriate ever happened.

He dismissed the claims from the male complainant that he was abused after "something like chloroform" was put over his mouth as "totally untrue".

Fr Stanley, from Ballybunion, County Kerry, retired from the priesthood in 2002 and returned to Ireland.

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