Cheshire vicar and his mistress jailed for child sexual abuse
A Cheshire vicar and a woman he was having an affair with have both been jailed for four years for child sexual abuse.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Stephen Clapham, 61, of Middlewich and Sally Shaw, 52, of Crewe, began an affair in 2016 when he was vicar at All Saints Church in Crewe. He moved on to All Saints Church in Church Lawton, and the affair continued.
This escalated to Clapham and Shaw engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, and inciting that child to become involved in their sexual activity. Indecent photographs of the child were also taken by Shaw and distributed to Clapham. The abuse came to light when the child made disclosures to staff at school.
In 2021 both Clapham and Shaw were arrested. Clapham gave largely no comment interviews, aside from commenting on the indecent photographs. Shaw made full admissions.
Both were charged with the above offences. Shaw entered guilty pleas on 27 January 2023 and Clapham entered guilty pleas on 24 February 2023. Both were sentenced on 20 April 2023 to four years' custody each, as well as being told they would have to stay on the sex offenders’ register for life. A Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which is a further safeguarding measure, was also ordered by the Court against both the Defendants; this will be in place for life. Restraining orders were granted to further protect the victim.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Sarah Egan, a specially trained lawyer in CPS Mersey-Cheshire’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) unit, said: “The Crown Prosecution Service welcomes the sentence passed in respect of Stephen Clapham and Sally Shaw.
“Clapham was a vicar and held a position of trust and authority in the local community. He has abused that trust. These two people have put their own warped sexual interests above that of the welfare of the victim. This behaviour is completely inexcusable, but they have now been brought to justice.
“Their guilty pleas have avoided a trial, which is a positive outcome for the victim, and both have demonstrated remorse for their actions.
“The victim has shown immense strength and courage in coming forward to report this sexual abuse. We hope the conclusion of this case allows the victim to move forward and look to the future. We would like to thank the victim, witnesses, and the police and prosecution team for all their assistance and support in this matter.
“We would like to remind the public that offences of this nature are taken extremely seriously, and will be prosecuted where the tests in the Code for Crown Prosecutors are met. We would like to encourage anyone who has been a victim of crime to come forward."
Detective Constable Laura Bradshaw of Cheshire Police said: “Firstly, I would like to praise the courage that the victim has shown throughout this case. Clapham held a position of trust and he took advantage of his standing in the parish and abused the trust of his parishioners by committing these crimes.
“Thankfully, as a result of the bravery shown by the victim, Clapham has now been held accountable and both he and Shaw are now behind bars. I hope this case encourages others to come forward if they have been subjected to abuse, no matter how long ago. We do listen and we will support you whether that’s in going to court or in finding the appropriate services to assist you.
“Whilst the victim will never be able to forget about what happened, I hope the fact that Clapham and Shaw are now in prison and facing the consequences of their actions will provide the victim with some closure and enable them to begin to move forward with their lives."
To report any sexual offence in Cheshire, call Cheshire Constabulary on 101 or report on their website.