Derbyshire priest sentenced for historic child abuse


A former priest from Derbyshire has been sentenced for over twenty sexual offences against young people, dating back over several decades. The offences were described by Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor Janine Smith as 'a betrayal of trust that devastated the lives of his victims'.

Francis Paul Cullen pleaded guilty to offences including indecent assault on a male, indecency with a child and attempted buggery, all relating to attacks he carried out on seven people aged between seven and 15-years-old between 1957 and 1991. He was sentenced today at Derby Crown Court to 15 years in prison.

As a parish priest in Derbyshire, and later in Nottingham, Cullen preyed on children and young people, using his position as a parish priest to gain unsupervised access to his child victims and commit acts of sexual abuse on them.

He was arrested in 1991, but fled while on bail. He was discovered in Tenerife and in 2013 he was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant to face charges against three of his victims. As a result of this news, four other victims came forward to report crimes he had committed against them.

Janine Smith, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor at CPS East Midlands, said:

"As a Catholic priest, Francis Paul Cullen was a trusted member of his community and held in high regard by his parishioners. Yet right from the very start of his ministry, he was abusing children, boys and girls, in his pastoral care. This was a betrayal of trust that devastated the lives of his victims, affecting many of them well into their adult years.

"Bringing Francis Cullen to justice has been a complex matter, with separate approaches to overseas jurisdictions as the case progressed. When preparing the case for trial, it was important to ensure the court could hear the full account of his criminality and a lot of hard work went into making this possible. His guilty pleas a week before the trial meant that his crimes can be dealt with without his victims having to go through the ordeal of describing what happened to them in court.

"This case very clearly demonstrates that no matter how long ago sexual abuse was committed, victims can see justice done. Perpetrators of these offences have nowhere to hide"