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Church of England priest guilty of multiple sex offences against boys

By Ben Mitchell

A former Church of England priest has been convicted of a string of sexual offences against two boys dating back to the late 1980s.

Jonathan Graves, of Jervis Avenue, Eastbourne, East Sussex, is the third former priest from the Diocese of Chichester to be convicted following an investigation into concerns about several priests.

The 60-year-old was found guilty of 12 sexual offences, against two boys known to him, while he was priest at St Luke's Church at Stone Cross, near Eastbourne, in the Chichester diocese.

One of the victims was aged between 11 and 13 and the other between 12 and 15.

Graves is on police bail and will be sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Monday.

Detective Inspector Jon Gross, of Sussex Police, said the actions of the former priest had a "lasting impact" on those he abused.

"The past has caught up with Jonathan Graves," he said.

"The evidence revealed how he used his position to select his victims and befriend them before callously abusing them for his own sexual gratification. His crimes have had a lasting impact on the abused.

"The hurt caused by the sexual abuse itself has undoubtedly been compounded by the psychological scars of the abuser being a trusted and influential figure in each of the victims' lives."

He added: "I have enormous admiration for the courage the victims have shown in coming forward to the police. I hope these verdicts bring some form of closure to them."

A Sussex Police spokesman said Graves is the third and last of the three priests they were investigating in that particular operation to be convicted.

"Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss looked into the case of Jonathan Graves in 2010 as part of a review for the Diocese of Chichester looking at previous concerns about several priests," the spokesman said.

"The report was sent to Sussex Police in 2011.

"Following a review of all information held by the diocese on the cases covered, the force began an investigation, Operation Perry, and Graves is the third and last of the priests to be convicted.

"The two other clergy, Robert Coles and Gordon Rideout, have already been convicted in separate trials and sentenced to terms of imprisonment."

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