Christopher Jarvis, a man appointed pedophile investigator and "child safeguarding officer" for the Diocese of Plymouth, South West England, has been jailed 12 months for possession of thousands of child pornographic images.
The Independent reports Jarvis was a member of the "Devon and Cornwall Multi-agency Safeguarding Team," who collaborated with police officers and social services and had access to private information about victims of child abuse.
According to The Daily Mail, Christopher Jarvis, 49, was in charge of investigating child sexual abuse allegations and child protection in 120 churches and parish communities for nine years. He had, in the past, investigated several "historic" cases and claims of child sexual abuse in the diocese and had interviewed victims of child sexual abuse.
Jarvis was arrested in March while he was leading a major investigation into pedophile claims at a Benedictine monastery, the Buckfast Abbey, in Devon. The Daily Mail reports he was arrested soon after he had uploaded pornographic images of pre-pubescent boys to a social networking site. Police investigators found more than 4,000 pornographic images on his home computer, mostly of boys aged 10 to 12.
Details of the nature of the images emerged at his trial. About 120 of them were classified "Level Four" abusive images, showing scenes of rape; 12 were classified "Level Five," showing scenes of torture and sadism. Jarvis was also accused of viewing erotic images of sexual relationship between a child and an adult male.
Jarvis, who was sentenced after being found guilty of producing, possessing and distributing indecent images, in a move to mitigate his sentence, claimed he had been abused as a child and that he suffered low self-esteem. The defence told the court Jarvis had suffered psychologically after his arrest and had tried to commit suicide. The defence also tried to have Jarvis' sentence deferred to allow time for psychiatric evaluation. The defence argued Jarvis was a man in need of psychiatric help and not a prison sentence.
Judge Darlow, in his judgment, rejected the arguments of the defence and chided Jarvis for deceptive behavior — appearing in public as "caring, helpful and honest" man, while privately producing and distributing child pornography. Judge Darlow said:
"You, of all people, were more aware than others of the massive theft of innocence and long-term damage exacted on the children whose images you downloaded for your own sexual gratification...In the circumstances, your behavior was more elective and cynical than might otherwise have been the case...It had a deep impact upon the church. In the eyes of the public you had a respectable position in the church. The people who confided in you of their own misery and abuse may well themselves be shocked and horrified that the person they were speaking to was, in his personal life, downloading images of children being abused in the same way."
The revelation that the Catholic Church in South West England had hired a pedophile to such a sensitive role as that of pedophile investigator and child protection warden caused great embarrassment. The Daily Mail reports Jarvis was fired immediately he admitted his crimes and was banned from attending Catholic church services in Plymouth. The Bishop of Plymouth Right Reverend Christopher Budd, ordered an inquiry into child protection measures in South West England.
The Independent reports David Pond, independent chairman of the Child Safeguarding Commission for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth has said that,
"The church...remains....committed to ensuring that a safe environment exists for all in the church and the knowledge that Jarvis was himself guilty of such offences has been a great shock to the many people....He was a fully qualified social worker and came to the role following a competitive recruitment process being of good character and with very good references.We need to be continually vigilant and aware of the need to have reliable checks and controls in place to manage the risk to vulnerable children and adults and we will continue to review and improve our responses to all forms of abuse."The Mirror reports the priest pleaded guilty to 12 counts of making and distributing indecent images after his arrest in March.
There have been, in England, several other cases of pedophile investigation in recent times. The Independent reports that in October 2009, Catholic priest Father David Pearce, the "devil in a dog collar," was for jailed eight years for sexually abusing young boys, mostly under 14, at St. Benedict's School, over a period of 36 years. Early in the month, the police also announced they were looking for Father Laurence Soper, Abbot of Ealing Abbey from 1991 to 2000, after he failed to appear at a police station for questioning.