A FORMER local vicar and youth counsellor at a West Berkshire school has been convicted of child sex charges.
Rev Peter Jarvis admitted two charges of breaching a position of trust by causing or inciting children under 16 years to engage in sexual activity and one charge of possessing child pornography.
A trial had been due to start at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday, February 3, but despite a jury being sworn in, the day was spent in legal argument.
The following morning, after further legal wrangling Judge Richard Parkes QC told jurors: “This will seem to be the most extraordinary example of jury service you could imagine. But I’m going to discharge you from delivering verdicts for reasons which are about to become apparent. Thank you for your patience.”
The clerk then put to Jarvis two charges of inciting a child aged under 16 years to engage in sexual activity while he was in a position of trust.
He also put to him a charge of possessing indecent images of children.
All the charges relate to a five-year period from June 2008.
Looking straight ahead, Jarvis replied “guilty” to each charge.
Afterwards the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Rev Andrew Proud, said: “These are serious sexual offences and we are profoundly shocked and saddened.
“The Diocese of Oxford takes safeguarding, especially of children, young people, and vulnerable adults very seriously. We expect the highest standards of conduct from all of our clergy.
“When this case came to light we immediately contacted the statutory authorities. Since then we have worked closely with the police and local authority colleagues and will continue to do so until Mr Jarvis’s sentencing next month."
He added: “As soon as the allegations were made, Mr Jarvis stood down from his duties, as is our policy. Clearly in light of the guilty plea we will now be initiating the Church of England’s disciplinary process.
“This case has been protracted and distressing for everyone affected. All those involved are in my thoughts and prayers.”
Jarvis was vicar of St Michael’s Church in Spencers Wood and before that team vicar in Thatcham. He was also chaplain to the John Madejski Academy in Whitley.
The Newbury Weekly News was at Winchester Crown Court for the dramatic developments.
Grab a copy on Thursday for an exclusive report of the proceedings, plus background.