A FORMER Methodist preacher who spent nine years working with Birmingham families has been jailed for seven years for sexually abusing a young girl.
Andrew Ross, 60, was dubbed the “King of Frankley” for his high-profile role with the Frankley Church Community Project.
But he was jailed at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday after being found guilty of five sex offences – and it emerged he had a previous conviction for sexually assaulting a young girl as a teenager.
Passing sentence, Judge Peter Carr said he could not understand how the original offence was not picked up when Ross underwent criminal record checks to land the Frankley job.
He concluded it must have slipped through the net because it was more than 40 years ago and also dismissed references which praised the ex-church worker’s dedication.
“Those references demonstrate you were working for many years with youngsters and disadvantaged members of the community,” the judge said. “But, ultimately, these sort of references are not unusual and are common for those who fall to be sentenced for offences like these.”
Ross was last month convicted of three counts of causing or inciting a girl under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity and two of sexual assault on the same girl. The offences all happened in May last year.
James Doyle, defending, said Ross, of Meadowsweet Avenue, Kings Norton, “gave over his life to the Methodist ministry” after retraining aged 34.
“There is no evidence of any incidents in his Methodist past and this is a tragic and sad case that has impacted upon so many people,” he said.
“He was a respected member of the community who would be one of the unsung heroes of our age were it not for these offences.”
The Frankley Community Church Project is a scheme involving the Church of England and Methodist Church.
Ross worked for it from 2002 until he was made redundant last year. During his time there, he campaigned for the regeneration of the area after the devastating effects on local families after the closure of the Longbridge factory in 2005.
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