3:00pm Friday 12th April 2013
THE former chairman of Bromsgrove Liberal Democrats, who hid dark secrets for decades, has been jailed for sexually assaulting three children.
Geoffrey Ray, 71, of Middle Drive, Cofton Hackett, pleaded guilty to three offences of sexual assault on three young girls in Bromsgrove, between April 1976 and May 1985.
One of the girls, who was aged under 13 at the time of the offence, saw Ray’s picture in a newspaper last May and decided to make a complaint.
Following an investigation police found two more victims, David Iles, prosecuting, told Worcester Crown Court.
All the victims said the assaults had an impact on their lives. In a statement, one said: "I want to move on.
“I need closure. I wish the assaults had never happened. I felt dirty."
Another said she had carried it around all her life, hated men as a result, and had needed counselling.
Stephen Cadwallader, defending, said Ray had not offended before or since and had had no hesitation in pleading guilty when faced with aged and dark secrets.
He added Ray had an unhappy childhood. After his father committed suicide when Ray was 10, he was sent to boarding school where he was bullied and abused.
Ray had suffered from mental health issues since the early 1960s, when he had been a psychiatric patient. At the time of the offences, he had depression and his marriage had broken down.
Ray was now an old man in failing health and prison would be difficult for him, Mr Cadwallader said.
Recorder Michael Cullum told Ray: "For decades, you have had the luxury of portraying yourself as a decent man when in reality you have been a predatory sex offender since 1976."
He said he accepted Ray's background had played a part but he had attacked girls at a vulnerable age, and only an immediate jail sentence could be imposed.
Ray was given consecutive prison sentences of one year, two years, and 16 months for the offences and also placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
After sentencing, Detective Constable Nadia Prescott said Ray had never expressed any remorse for what he had done during police interviews.
“The first victim to come forward wasn't aware that there had been any other victims, “ DC Prescott said.
“However, because of her bravery we were able to conduct an investigation which led to us tracing two others.
“I would like to pay tribute to the courage of all the victims who came forward to give evidence.
“Ray betrayed a position of trust and the serious nature of the crimes is reflected by the sentence handed down by the court."
Ray unsuccessfully contested the Slideslow district council seat as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the 2007 district council elections, and was chairman of the branch as recently as 2010.
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