Shamed minister kicked out for assault on boy
A CHURCH of Scotland minister from East Lothian was suspended indefinitely from the Kirk last night after he admitted trying to grope a schoolboy in a leisure centre’s toilets.
Rev Ian Andrew, 38, minister of St Andrew’s High Church in Musselburgh, is now facing ruin after a church tribunal made the decision to kick him out "without limit of time".
Chairing the tribunal for the Kirk, Sheriff John Horsburgh dismissed last-ditch pleas for clemency by Andrew’s lawyer, John Wright QC.
He said the decision had been unanimous and paved the way for a lengthy suspension.
Andrew had already been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register by a sheriff hearing the case at Stonehaven Sheriff Court, where he admitted attempting to grab the 14-year-old boy’s private parts. He was also ordered to pay his victim 200 in compensation.
The clergyman, who left the tribunal without comment to join his 41-year-old wife Margaret, had refused to admit abusing the boy before his peers, despite pleading guilty to the charge at the earlier court hearing.
Last night’s decision will mean Andrew, his wife and their two daughters, aged eight and 11, will be forced out of their four-bedroom manse in Musselburgh as well as losing out on a 19,000-a-year stipend.
But supporters of the minister were furious at the decision and attacked the Church’s "lack of clarity" during the tribunal.
One parishioner described Andrew’s crime as "at worst an error of judgement" and said that he had already been put through the mire. He added: "How much punishment do they want a man to have? We would have him back tomorrow."
The tribunal was the first of its kind to deal with "rogue" ministers and the first major change in the Kirk’s disciplinary procedures in 400 years.
In October last year Andrew sat stony-faced in the dock at Stonehaven Sheriff Court as a sheriff was told he could not explain his actions.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he became aware Andrew was watching him as he undressed and wrapped a towel round himself before going to the toilet at the Craigendarroch Hotel’s sports centre in Royal Deeside during a visit last July.
Procurator fiscal Ernest Barber told the court at the time that the boy immediately realised Andrew was also in the toilet of the Ballater leisure centre. He became uneasy and looked down at the floor.
The minister then moved behind the boy and leaned forward with his shoulder pressing on the youngster's back.
The boy then felt Andrew put his arm between his left arm and body and attempt to take hold of his private parts.
Mr Barber told the court: "At this point the boy said ‘no, no, no’. He was very upset. He went to his parents and a report was made to the police."
Despite the first-time offender claiming he thought the youngster was considerably older than 14, the court heard how Andrew admitted to police during an interview that his actions were motivated by the fact that he was a young boy.
Andrew’s solicitor Denis Daun told the court that his client had accepted that he caused alarm and distress because of his actions.
Mr Daun said Andrew’s family was standing by him throughout the ordeal but admitted: "He has no rational explanation why he became involved in this."
The shamed preacher has been involved with local schools in East Lothian in his capacity as a church minister.
Sheriff Douglas Cusine said Andrew had committed an offence under part one of the Sex Offenders’ Act 1997 and accordingly placed him on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years.
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