Retired priest charged over alleged child sex abuse at Wetherby children’s home

Four people have been charged as part of West Yorkshire Police's Operation Polymer
Four people have been charged as part of West Yorkshire Police's Operation Polymer
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A retired Roman Catholic priest is set to appear in court accused of historic sexual abuse offences at a West Yorkshire children’s home.

Roy Lovatt, 70, from Redcar, has been charged with five counts of indecent assault and seven counts of a serious sexual offence. He will appear at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on December 9.

In a statement today, West Yorkshire Police said the charges against Lovatt relate to alleged abuse at the former Thorp Arch Grange Children’s Home, in Wetherby, in the 1970s and 1980s.

The force has also revealed that two men and a woman have been charged over alleged historic sexual abuse at the former Shadwell children’s home in Leeds in the 1980s and 1990s.

Melvin Hamilton Blake, 69, from Menston, Ilkley, has been charged with 11 counts of indecent assault, two counts of a serious sexual offence and 17 counts relating to possession of prohibited images of children and possession of extreme pornographic images.

Len Anthony Lake, 61, of Ireland Wood, Leeds, has been charged with two counts of indecent assault.

Marion Beresford, 60, of Glasgow, has been charged with seven counts of indecent assault.

The three are due to appear at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on November 13.

All four were arrested as part of Operation Polymer, a probe into physical and sexual abuse at children’s homes in and around Leeds in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Middlesbrough said: “The Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough can confirm that it is aware that a retired priest in the Diocese has been assisting West Yorkshire Police with their enquiries into allegations of historic offences and that on November 9 2015 he was formally charged.

“The offences with which he is charged relate to a time before he was ordained as a Catholic priest.

“The Diocese can further confirm that the priest concerned has not exercised any ministry since the inquiries began and will not be doing so for the time being.

“Any further comment at this time would be inappropriate as the legal process is ongoing.”