A vicar has been convicted of spiritual abuse of a teenage boy during private prayer sessions in the boy’s bedroom.
The Reverend Timothy Davis of Christ Church, Abingdon, faced a tribunal after moving in with the boy’s family for six months in 2013.
The Church of England vicar was accused of causing the teenager to be ‘scared’, trying to influence the boy and his relationship with his girlfriend, the panel heard.
During the prayer sessions in the boy’s bedroom the tribunal heard how they laid hands on each other’s head, shoulders, chest and back.
The Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal ruled there was no ‘sexual touching’ and said it would fix a penalty in due course.
Mr Davis lived with the family, who were members of his congregation. He became a mentor to the 15-year-old boy in 2011.
In its judgement, the tribunal said the teenager was “scared” by what Mr Davis was doing.
It said the vicar’s “domination” of the boy amounted to “misconduct which was unbecoming and inappropriate” and caused the boy to be “deprived of his freedom of choice.”
Mr Davis, who is in his 50s, was suspended from his position in 2016. A psychiatrist told the tribunal he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in September 2016.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Oxford said: “Abuse of spiritual authority and power falls far short of the obligations and duties of those in Holy Orders. Clergy are in a privileged position of trust in their congregations and communities. The professional guidelines to which they are bound make clear that this is a trust that they must not abuse.
“The findings of the tribunal show that, sadly, Tim Davis betrayed the trust of everyone involved in a youth mentoring program at Christ Church Abingdon. None more so than the young man and his family who offered their home and hospitality to him.
“The behaviour and actions of Tim Davis during this period are in no way reflective of acceptable church practice. We fully support the findings of the tribunal and now await their decision as to the penalty to be imposed.”