Retired Yorkshire methodist minister hypnotised children before sexually abusing them

A retired Methodist minister has been jailed for using hypnosis to sexually abuse boys as a way to "satisfy his own depravity".

North Yorkshire Police undated handout photo of Rev John Price who has been jailed at Teesside Crown Court for using hypnosis to sexually abuse boys as a way to 'satisfy his own depravity'. Picture: North Yorkshire Police /PA Wire

John Price, 82, of Ash Tree Close, Bedale, North Yorkshire, was found guilty of 13 counts of indecent assault dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

Price, a widower who walks with a white stick and is cared for by his daughter, had denied the charges but was convicted after a trial at Teesside Crown Court.

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The court heard he had fashioned ways of being alone with the boys, who were aged between 11 and 17, then he indecently assaulted them.

He claimed he could help them with stress, physical or emotional pain and used a cloak or blanket in the hypnosis technique.

Attacks happened at his manse, in the vestry or at the boys' homes when he was a minister in York and Pocklington.

One victim, who read out a personal statement in court, said the abuse had left him in "a chasm of absolute despair".

"Within a short time he destroyed everything I had come to believe in - other people, the church and God himself. He shattered everything positive I had about myself," he said.

"He claimed to be able to help me relax but it was his sick ploy to sexually assault me.

"I was worth nothing, a means to satisfy his own depravity."

He said having hoped to become a minister himself, "I lost my vocation and my chosen career, I lost my faith".

Prosecutor Paul Newcombe read out a statement from another victim which said he believed Price had targeted him at a time when his mother was dying of cancer because he thought he was vulnerable.

The court was told after abusing the boys he would often tell them that if they ever found themselves about to mention what had happened, their minds would go blank and they would forget.

None of the victims said they were actually hypnotised but they froze in surprise and horror at what the respected church leader was doing, the jury heard.

When one of the victims complained to a senior church figure, who has since died, he was told not to be "silly" and the matter was brushed aside.

Jailing him for eight and a half years, Judge Howard Crowson said as a minister he had been expected to show compassion and care for the boys, but instead he abused them.

Detective Constable Adam Parkinson, from North Yorkshire Police, said: "John Price abused his position of trust within the Methodist Church. He used that position to gain access to vulnerable young boys in order to sexually abuse them for his own perverse gratification.

"I commend the courage of the victims in coming forward after so long and reliving their experiences. I hope this result can finally give them some closure.

"I thank the Methodist Church safeguarding team for their assistance and I hope this case does not distract from the good work the church does in the community."