A church caretaker who abused children as young as seven has been jailed - more than 25 years after his crimes.
Over a 16-year-period, Michael Adamson molested four girls in the congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - including two in the church's boiler room.
He abused a third in her home when he came around to tune her piano while she was off school ill.
When he stopped, he "gave her a look as if to say Don't say anything or you are dead'," said prosecutor Dr Tina Dempster.
York Crown Court also heard how elders at the church knew of Adamson's crimes as long ago as 1998 and allowed him to continue worshipping there.
Adamson, of Thornwood Covert, off Foxwood Lane, York, who also played the church organ, was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to 11 charges of indecent assault committed between 1966 and 1982. Judge Stephen Ashurst told Adamson: "You have enjoyed your liberty and you have held on to your position of apparent respectability in the wider community and in your religious community," Adamson now faces excommunication from the church.
Child abuser is put behind bars
A Paedophile jailed for sexually attacking youngsters at his church now faces excommunication, York Crown Court heard.
Elders of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints knew about organist and caretaker Michael John Adamson's crimes a decade ago and allowed him to continue worshipping there after a three-week suspension, said Tina Dempster, prosecuting.
He had abused four girls aged seven to 15 during a 16 year period, including molesting two of them in the boiler-room of the church's Acomb chapel. All four belonged to families in its congregation.
He abused a third when he visited her home to tune the piano and she was off school with illness. When he stopped he "gave her a look as if to say Don't say anything or you are dead'," said Dr Dempster.
But though all four kept silent for years, they finally spoke out and Adamson admitted his crimes 26 years after they stopped.
His barrister, Geraldine Kelly, said he will now appear before a church court where "there is every likelihood he will be excommunicated".
"He looks to his family and the church for support and understanding; he looks to his victims for forgiveness," she said.
Calling him a hypocrite, the Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, jailed Adamson, 63, of Thornwood Covert, off Foxwood Lane, for six years.
"You have enjoyed your liberty and you have held onto your position of apparent respectability in the wider community and in your religious community," he said. He added that Adamson had betrayed the trust of the girls' parents, who were church members, and had a lasting effect on all four girls, now women.
Adamson pleaded guilty to 11 charges of indecent assault committed between 1966 and 1982.
In addition to the jail term, the judge restricted his activities for the rest of his life under a sexual offences prevention order, banned him from ever working with children again and put him on the sex offenders' register for life.
Speaking of the suspension in 1998, Miss Kelly said: "Coming before the church and being dealt with by the church elders at that stage of his life was a real punishment. It was shame and disgrace."
The church was a major part of his life, and he had had to prove himself with other church members after the suspension, a process that took three to four years. After police became involved earlier this year, he was again regularly interviewed by church members.
He had not committed any crimes in the last 26 years and had spared his victims the ordeal of giving evidence by pleading guilty.