Pump Court Chambers

Justin Gau briefed in first case of ‘spiritual abuse’

News 9th January 2018

Justin Gau has appeared on behalf of a Vicar in what is considered to be the first reported case of spiritual abuse before a Church of England Tribunal.

The Revd Timothy Davis, the vicar of Christ Church, Abingdon, in Oxfordshire, became a mentor to a 15-year-old boy, referred to in the judgment as W1, in 2011. During an 18 month period, Mr Davis moved into the family home and engaged W1 in prayer and bible study sessions. W1 described being mentored by Davis as “awful” and all-consuming, but did not feel able to challenge the priest. W1’s mother, who worked at the church and was a member of the congregation said she felt unable to challenge Davis because he was her boss and she was “scared of going against God”.

Davis told the panel that he was “shocked and confused” about the allegations and had “no idea of the effect I was apparently having”. The tribunal found Davis guilty of spiritually abusing a teenage boy, after putting him under “unacceptable pressure” during the intense sessions in the boy’s bedroom. There was no suggestion of any sexual contact.

Davis was suspended by the diocese of Oxford in 2016. A penalty will be imposed at a later hearing. For further details please click here.

To view the judgment in full click here.

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