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Former vicar jailed for abusing altar boys

by Kelly Valencia

Julian Wheeler, a former Church of England curate, has been jailed for eleven years for abusing two altar boys in the 1980s and 1990s.

He was found guilty of 13 counts of indecent assault at Exeter Crown Court on Friday. He must serve at lease two-thirds of his sentence before being eligible for parole.

The clergyman, who was a curate and vicar at two churches in north Devon, abused the boys when they were aged between ten and 14.

In 2017, the first victim came forward to police about the abuse they suffered at the hands of Wheeler. Officers launched an investigation and contacted the other victim who had previously reported similar offences against Wheeler.

When sentencing, Judge James Adkin told Wheeler: "This was serious sexual abuse.

"The breach of trust was significant in the circumstances of you being a clergyman and a father figure to the boys.

"You were significantly trusted in the community and you exploited that to use them for sex."

Wheeler has been placed on the sex offenders register for life.

The Acting Bishop of Exeter, Rt Rev Jackie Searle, said: “Today’s sentence is a reflection of the extremely serious crimes committed by Julian Wheeler. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and survivors of his abuse, their friends and families, and all who have suffered as a result of his actions.

“I hope the justice done today will bring some peace to all affected by this case, including the communities where he lived and worked. It is deeply disturbing and shocking that vulnerable children were abused by a member of clergy who had a duty of care to protect them.”

Wheeler served in the Diocese of Exeter from 1975 to 2003.

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