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Upholland: The Scandal Continues

Another day and sadly yet another priest from Upholland has been found guilty of sexually abusing children in their care.

Michael Higginbottom, aged 76, was previously convicted in 2017 at Liverpool Crown Court of two sexual offences relating to a pupil at St Joseph’s College in Upholland, Lancashire.  The original conviction, however, was quashed after Higginbottom appealed.

The re-trial recently took place at Burnley Crown Court over a period of two weeks.  In addition to the offences that had previously been quashed, Higginbottom also faced charges in relation to another pupil at the school.

Both former pupils alleged that Higginbottom had abused them as young boys, in his private living quarters at the Catholic school in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  They had not attended the school at the same time nor did they know each other, yet their accounts of the abuse that they both suffered were very similar.  The court heard how they were both ‘regularly, systematically and horrifically’ abused at the school.  They were also both threatened with violence and hit with either a belt or a strap by Higginbottom.

Despite pleading not guilty to all charges and arguing he had no recollection of the boys, Higginbottom was convicted of five counts of serious sexual assault and seven counts of indecent assault.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Andrew Woolman told Higginbottom: “You were in the highest position of trust in relation to these boys, who you abused in a quite appalling way.’  He was then sentenced to a total of 18 years.

The second pupil came forward to the police after reading a news report on the original 2017 conviction.  This is another example, therefore, of yet another predatory paedophile being found guilty and held to account decades after their abusive acts.  I hope that this offers encouragement to other survivors of abuse who are yet to report the abuse that they have suffered and who are yet to receive the justice that they deserve.

Bolt Burdon Kemp’s abuse team have successfully previously brought claims for compensation in relation to sexual abuse that our clients have suffered at Upholland at the hands of other priests.

Rebecca Sheriff is a solicitor and Partner in the Abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp.  If you feel you may have a claim or are enquiring on behalf of a loved one, contact Rebecca free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4827 or at rebeccasheriff@boltburdonkemp.co.uk.  Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Abuse team will contact you.  Find out more about the Abuse team.

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