Vicar is cleared of sexual abuse charges
A CHAPLAIN at Southmead Hospital has been cleared of sexually abusing a teenage boy.
A jury at Bristol Crown Court took less than three hours to acquit Stephen Oram of indecent assault when he was the vicar at St Anne's Church, Brislington, in the mid-90s.
Rev Oram burst into tears as the verdict was delivered. Outside the courtroom, he hugged supporters who had attended the trial.
The 53-year-old, of Ison Hill Road, Henbury, was initially standing trial for three indecent assaults, all of which he denied strenuously. After a legal ruling from Recorder Christopher Parker QC, the jury returned not guilty verdicts on two charges relating to one complainant. They were then left to decide whether Rev Oram was guilty of molesting a second boy who claimed he had been plied with strong lager.
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During his evidence, Rev Oram said he was homosexual, but denied being attracted to young boys.
He said he would often have guests stay while he was vicar at St Anne's but nothing inappropriate happened. He was suspended from his job as co-ordinating chaplain at Southmead after the allegations were made.
After the verdict, the Diocese of Bristol and North Bristol NHS Trust issued a joint statement, which said: "The allegations were brought to the attention of the diocese's Safeguarding Team a year ago, which they ensured were immediately referred to the relevant authorities. The police have conducted this inquiry and it was the police's decision to bring this case to court. In line with employment protocols, North Bristol NHS Trust suspended Mr Oram from his employment as a chaplain when the allegations were made and he also accepted voluntary suspension from his duties as a priest at that time.
"Since then, both NBT and the diocese have sought to ensure that he has received pastoral support. NBT and the diocese will together continue to work with Mr Oram, now criminal proceedings have been concluded."