Uckfield Community Technology College has said it is “deeply shocked” after the college’s former deputy principal was found guilty of sexual offences against two young boys.
Christopher Howarth, who worked at the college until 2007, was convicted of 26 offences after a ten-day trial at Hove Crown Court.
The retired 68-year-old, who was also a former lay priest at Holy Cross Church in Uckfield, was found not guilty of five offences.
The offences for which he was convicted all took place in the Uckfield area between 2004 and 2011, with one of the boys assaulted in Howarth’s office at Uckfield Community Technology College.
The investigation started in December 2012 when police were first told of allegations by the younger boy. Enquiries were made and Howarth was arrested in the same month. The second boy came forward with allegations during 2013.
A statement from the college said: “The college is deeply shocked to learn the outcome of Chris Howarth’s trial and our thoughts are immediately with the victims and their families, who have shown tremendous courage and strength in bringing the case to court; it is only hoped that with support they are able to rebuild their lives from this point forward.
“Chris Howarth retired from the college eight years ago, in 2007. As a teacher, as a member of the clergy and as a significant member of the Uckfield community, he was trusted by many people. This makes the betrayal of trust by Rev Howarth with two vulnerable young boys so shocking and abhorrent.
“It is going to take time for the close community of Uckfield to come to terms with the breach in trust and the terrible abuse that has taken place.
“The college has always maintained the very highest standards of safeguarding policies and procedures and these are regularly checked and scrutinised by East Sussex County Council and OFSTED. During the many years Chris Howarth worked at the college, there was never any concern or allegation made against him.
“We will be working with local agencies to support anyone within the Uckfield community who is affected by the outcome of the trial.”
To read the full story of Howarth’s trial, click here.
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