FAIRFAX, Va. (ABP) — British police are investigating whether a Baptist minister who confessed to sexually abusing two boys in the United States had other victims in the United Kingdom.
Robert Dando, 46, former senior minister at Worcester Park Baptist Church in suburban London, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty Nov. 3 to four counts of aggravated sexual battery of a victim under 13. He was accused of sexually abusing two sons of a family friend in Virginia during visits to the United States over a number of years.
Prosecutors in Fairfax County Circuit Court said that, under questioning, Dando admitted that he also fondled boys in the United Kingdom. The Bicester Advertiser in Oxfordshire, England, reported Nov. 11 that Thames Valley Police were conducting an investigation of their own.
"We are currently following a number of leads and inquiries relating to child protection issues involving Robert Dando that have occurred in the U.K.," a police spokesperson told the newspaper. Police asked anyone with information to contact detectives handling the investigation.
Dando resigned as pastor of Worcester Park Baptist Church after his arrest July 24 in Oakton, Va. He also was removed from membership of the Boys' Brigade, an interdenominational Christian youth organization that involves 60,000 children and young people in over 1,500 groups in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Dando's wife, Janice, was a vice president of the Boys' Brigade. She resigned after her husband's arrest and was described by a spokesman for the organization as going through a "tough time."
A spokesperson for the Baptist Union of Great Britain told the Local Guardian newspaper group that the congregation of Worcester Park Baptist Church was saddened by news of Dando's guilty plea and is praying for everyone involved.
"If any allegations are made over here in the U.K. within one of our churches, it would always immediately be reported to the police and social services," the spokesperson said.
Between 1995 and 2006 Dando was a minister with the Orchard Baptist Fellowship in Bicester, near the famous university city of Oxford. Current pastor Steve Barber told the local newspaper that congregation members "are deeply saddened that someone in a position of trust could harm vulnerable children in such a way."
Dando worked as a volunteer assistant to David Coffey from 2005, when Coffey assumed office as president of the Baptist World Alliance, until Dando took a full-time job as pastor of Worcester Park in 2007.
Dando's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 28. He faces up to 80 years in prison.
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.
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