Emsworth reverend resigns over sexual misconduct with schoolgirl
A reverend has resigned following an investigation into his sexual misconduct with a schoolgirl.
The Rev Simon Sayers ‘has admitted two sexual incidents with a 16-year-old’ when he was a vicar in the Diocese of London in the 1990s, the Church of England Diocese of Portsmouth said in a statement.
He has been banned from ministry for a period of five years, a ban Mr Sayers has accepted in a statement offering his resignation as rector of the Warblington with Emsworth parish.
Mr Sayers has issued an apology over the incidents, which he described as ‘a brief above the waist incident of a sexual nature with someone over the age of consent and a brief kiss two days later’ in London.
Mr Sayers said: “I have always believed that my behaviour was wrong and fell below the high standards required of a Christian leader, and I am deeply sorry for the sadness the incident and its investigation has caused.”
In April last year a police investigation into a complaint over sexual misconduct saw no charges brought against Mr Sayers, though the Church of England’s own investigation found that he ‘engaged in conduct unbecoming a clergy person and inappropriate for a married man’.
Mr Sayers had been suspended from his position during the investigation.
In a statement the Church of England Diocese of Portsmouth said: “The Rev Simon Sayers has admitted two sexual incidents with a 16-year-old schoolgirl.
“The Bishop of London – in whose diocese the incidents happened – has found that the Rev Simon Sayers abused his position of trust by engaging in sexual acts with the girl. He engaged in conduct unbecoming a clergy person and inappropriate for a married man.
“The Rev Simon Sayers has accepted a penalty from the Bishop of London to be prohibited from ministry for a period of five years.
“During this time he will be unable to work as a member of clergy in the Church of England and has consequently resigned as rector of Warblington with Emsworth.
“The bishop’s penalty reflects both the seriousness of the Rev Simon Sayers’ behaviour on those occasions and of breaching the trust of a young person who had been in his pastoral care for some years.”
During the legal process the Bishop of Portsmouth has visited the parish several times to offer his support to parishioners, the statement said.
Mr Sayers added: “As a family we have been extremely moved by the depth of love and support which has been shown to us by the wonderful community in which we live.”
Church-goers reacted to the news by walking out of a service on Sunday, and a number of parishioners and residents have spoken out in support of Mr Sayers.
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