A Nigerian catholic Priest has been jailed for eight (8) months and fined a £100 statutory charge by a Lancashire court in the United Kingdom, for sexually assaulting a female and fondling her breast in his room without her consent at the St Mary’s Priory in Leyland on December 12, 2013.
Father Hillary Ogom Nwadei, 58, from Isele-Uku Diocese in Delta State was sentenced by Judge Michael Byrne after he entered a guilty plea.
He faces deportation after serving his jail term and will be put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.
Father Nwadei was arrested on a warrant at the London Heathrow in December 2014 while on a transit flight to the United States, almost a year after he fled the United Kingdom following the crime.
The priest was resident at the priory while he studied for his doctorate degree in Law at the University of Central Lancashire. He also did pastoral work during his stay, the judge was told.
Father Nwadei had before he fled Leyland apologized for his action and was subsequently expelled from the church, his defence told the judge, saying he has learned his lessons.
According to media reports, Father Nwadei had during his stay at the priory complained of loneliness and befriended his victim who he regularly confided in and often hugged during these exchanges.
It was learnt that Nwadei on December 12, 2013 had asked his victim to help him pack for a return trip to Nigeria. She agreed and went to his bedroom.
According to the prosecutor, David Traynor, “The defendant leaned against the door of the room, causing it to shut. He was between her and her way out of the room. He asked her for a kiss and she presented him with her cheek, but the defendant said ‘No, a proper kiss’, then kissed her on the lips.
“The victim said she wanted to leave and tried to leave, then the defendant asked if she had any sexual feelings towards him. When she said no the defendant reached up the back of her jumper and undid her bra.
“Then he moved his hands round the front, underneath her jumper and placed his hands under her bra, onto her naked breasts. He fondled her breasts for a matter of seconds. The woman made her excuses to leave, but he was still between her and the door, so she couldn’t leave at that point.”
The court heard he then undid his trousers, exposed himself and made a lewd comment. The woman said she had to leave and Nwadei moved out of the way to let her pass.
The woman told a friend and the matter was raised with the church, which launched an investigation, then told the police.
Following his sentencing, media reports said a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool said: “Father Ogom came to England to undertake further studies in Law at the University of Central Lancashire having received an appropriate Testimonial of Suitability for Ordained Ministry from the Bishop of Issele-Uku. During his stay in this country he resided in the Archdiocese of Liverpool at St Mary’s, Leyland.
“The case came to light when the victim reported the matter to the Safeguarding Department of the Archdiocese. It was immediately referred to Lancashire Police.”