August 2017

Bible teaching church worker groomed schoolgirls for sex – but avoids going to jail

A church youth worker groomed two schoolgirls for sex while teaching the Bible to children as young as seven.

Nathan Stott, 22, walked free from court after he admitted five sex offences against the girls aged 13 and 15 who he met through the Teesside church, which cannot be named for legal reasons.

The judge who sentenced him at Teesside Crown Court said that it was not an easy decision not to send him to prison, and that some members of the public might criticise him for it.

A psychiatrist and a pre-sentence report said that Stott, who was 20 at the time, lacked insight into the effect it was going to have on the girls, who are now both receiving counselling.

One of the victims said that he had “an air of childishness” about him, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Harry Hadfield said that Stott used Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to exchange messages and indecent photos with the girls, asking one if she would like to have sex with him.

He invited the other to watch him performing a sex act, which she did.

One girl’s mother found sexual messages from him on her daughter’s phone, and she confronted him and called in the police in January last year.

One girl messaged to him that she was not comfortable with him touching her sexually.

Police seized his laptop and mobile phone and they found Skype Chat of him talking to other girls, and he had searched on Google for child abuse imagery on known sites.

Mr Hadfield said that one mother received a Facebook message from her daughter telling her why she had not told her what Stott was doing.

The elder girl gave evidence on a videolink from a witness room in the courthouse saying that she was now failing at school and could not sleep because she imagined that Stott was prowling around her house.

She added:”I don’t like going to church any more although I used to go twice on Sunday.”

The other girl, who sent him naked pictures of herself when he asked her, said that she stopped going to the church because parents had warned their children to stay away from them.

Judge Tony Briggs, who told Stott that he was suspending his prison sentence, said: “It may well be that members of the public would think that in your position to engage in sexual conduct with a child that there would be automatic custody.

“They are perfectly entitled to hold that.”

The judge said that Stott’s mental nature and mental difficulties was “very far from usual”.

Judge Briggs said that Stott had an obsessive compulsive disorder, and he added: “It is disgraceful to behave in such a way but in the end I have to decide the length of the sentence and whether to make it immediate or to suspend it.

“I must say that I find it a very difficult decision to make and it may be that those offended by your behaviour many find it something of an injustice.”

Stott, of St Paul’s Square, Preston, Lancashire, was given a 12 months jail sentence suspended for two years with rehabilitation for 30 months, an indefinite Sexual Offence’s Prevention Order controlling his activities, and he was ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

He pleaded guilty to three charges of sexual activity with a child and two of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

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