LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Father Reginald Dunkling, a priest of the Diocese of Westminster in England, was sentenced Dec. 1 for a non-recent sexual abuse of a child. The Wood Green Crown Court imposed a 12-month community order, with additional requirements.

The diocese said Dunkling, now 61, withdrew from ministry in May 2020, and since that time has had no role in public ministry. The church issued a statement saying that following his conviction, the priest does not, and will not, have any role in public ministry.

Police officers cited the bravery of the victim who came forward and spoke with them, leading to the priest being sentenced for indecent assault committed three decades ago.

On April 21, 2020, detectives received allegations of sexual abuse said to have taken place in the Camden area of London in the 1990s.

The victim-survivor, who was 17 years old at the time he was assaulted, informed officers that he met Dunkling at his local church.

Dunkling was arrested on June 16, 2020, and charged with indecent assault on Sept. 9, 2021. He was found guilty on July 6 of this year.

After the Dec. 1 sentencing, Detective Constable Lucy Dugdale, the investigating officer, said it shows that the police “will always take this type of offending seriously, irrespective of how many years have passed. I would like to praise the victim for finding the courage to contact police; after 30 years, his voice has been heard.”

She noted that Dunkling used his status within the community to target a teenager who he then assaulted.

“He abused his position of trust which is wholly unacceptable. I would encourage anyone who has been the victim of a sexual assault to speak with police, or any of the charities or organizations that are available, so that they can get the support they need,” Dugdale said.

The Diocese of Westminster’s statement on the sentencing says it has been cooperating with the police throughout their investigations and is deeply sorry for the hurt that he caused to his victim, the victim’s family and the wider community, and acknowledges the gravity of the abuse he inflicted.

“The Diocese of Westminster is committed to the safeguarding of all children and vulnerable adults in its care,” the diocesan statement says.

“Over the past two decades, in conjunction with the Catholic Church in England and Wales, we have developed robust safeguarding policies and procedures, which have been put in place across parishes, chaplaincies, schools and agencies of the diocese to provide protection for children and vulnerable adults. We continue to strengthen our policies, procedures and practice,” the statement adds.

Dunkling has a 12-month community order with two requirements, a curfew for three months and a 25 hours’ rehabilitation activity requirement.