Catholic priest found guilty of sexually abusing seven boys
CATHOLIC priest Alexander Bede Walsh has been convicted of sexually abusing seven boys.
The 58-year-old, pictured right, was found guilty of 18 charges of indecent assault and one serious sexual offence at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday.
A jury acquitted him of three counts of indecent assault and one of indecency with a child.
The jury was today continuing its deliberations on the four remaining charges.
It is not yet clear when Walsh will be sentenced.
Walsh, who worked as a priest at St Giles's Church, in Cheadle, for 12 years from 1987, had denied 27 allegations of sexual abuse between 1974 and 1994.
Six of the indecent assault convictions involve a Staffordshire Moorlands man who was abused while staying with Walsh in Cheadle.
He was plied with a cocktail of spirits on one occasion and asked to wear a nappy on another.
None of Walsh's victims can be named for legal reasons.
Walsh has also been convicted of indecently assaulting boys who came to visit him while he worked at Cotton College, near Alton, as well as elsewhere across the Midlands.
Offences also happened in the boys' homes and at a swimming pool.
The jury took around six hours to find Walsh guilty of 19 of the allegations.
They had already been instructed by Judge Paul Glenn to return a not guilty verdict on one of the counts of indecent assault.
Three of the remaining four counts being considered today relate to an eighth victim. Two of them are allegations of indecent assault.
Walsh, who lives in church accommodation in Church Lane, Abbots Bromley, near Rugeley, said in his evidence that he had never sexually abused or inappropriately touched any of the complainants.
He said that the victims, who are now all adults, made up the allegations in order to claim compensation.
The Catholic Church has so far declined to comment on the case.
The trial has stunned parishioners who knew Walsh.
Following yesterday's verdicts, Peter Warrillow, who ran The Star pub, in Cotton, where Walsh was a regular in the 1980s and 90s, said: "The case has been a complete shock.
"There will be a lot of people who will still struggle to take everything on board."
Cheadle mayor Ian Whitehouse said: "The trial has been the number one topic of conversation in Cheadle. Everybody has been dumbfounded.
"Bede was such a character while he was in Cheadle, not just within the church.
"He was the man at the centre of the community."
Walsh was ordained in 1979 and spent 23 years working in North Staffordshire.
More of our coverage of the trial: