And the Sunday Mercury can today reveal how Father James Robinson, 73, was helped to leave the country when allegations were first made against him in the 1980s.
Church officials played down alleged abuse to US counterparts to facilitate his move abroad – describing the first victim’s claim that the priest had repeatedly raped him as “an unfortunate relationship”.
Anna Wheeler, a senior prosecutor with West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service’s Complex Casework Unit, finally extradited Robinson back to Britain to face justice.
The pervert was jailed for 21 years at Birmingham Crown Court last October after being found guilty of multiple sex offences against six boys as young as 10.
Ms Wheeler revealed two new victims had come forward before the trial and another afterwards. There will be no further prosecution, although their evidence is “entirely believable”.
She said: “One of two new victims who came forward just before the trial had previously sued the Church over his abuse. He didn’t wish to be involved in the court case.
“The other person was unable mentally to cope with the idea of court proceedings.’’
Ms Wheeler added that one other person had come forward to claim they had been abused by Robinson after he was jailed.
She said: ‘‘They have now been advised by the police that the public interest will not be served by prosecuting Robinson again, because of the length of sentence he received.
“He’s serving 21 years; he’s really not likely to come out.”
Robinson moved from parish to parish in Coventry and Birmingham between 1959 and 1983.
His congregation viewed him as a “charismatic, charming, forceful personality” – but behind the scenes he was grooming youngsters by taking them out in his sports car.
Robinson continued to work as a priest after moving to California in 1985, at a time when the Most Reverend Maurice Couve de Murville was the Archbishop of Birmingham.
Ms Wheeler has seen Church documents which show church leaders KNEW he had been accused of raping a young boy when he fled to the US.
“When he went to America there was certainly some disclosure to the American Catholic Church that there had been an allegation, an ‘unfortunate allegation that they didn’t think was really going to go anywhere’”, said Ms Wheeler.
“I think that that came to haunt them a little bit later – because that first victim didn’t go away.
“Robinson went to America in 1985, just after the first complaint was made. He planned to go to America, he wasn’t told to go. It was an opportunity and the Church facilitated the move.
“They approached the American Catholic Church and said, ‘We’ve got this great chap who’d like to come over and be a priest in America. And he’s had a heart attack, we think a change of air would be quite good. We need to tell you... this little unfortunate relationship might be something you ought to know about’.
“The Catholic Church in America would not have had any idea that there had been a rape
But despite moving to another continent, the allegations would not go away.
An attempt to extradite Robinson in 2002 was aborted, as American law at the time prevented such a move because his alleged crimes were more than 10 years old.
The first victim later travelled to the US to confront his childhood rapist who was living in a rundown trailer park in California.
But Robinson remained a free man.
Then everything changed.
Ms Wheeler recalls: “In 2007 a victim in a separate paedophile priest case, which had resulted in a successful prosecution, approached the police and said, ‘There’s been a change in the law, why haven’t you done something?’
“I made inquiries and indeed there had been a change, which meant the Americans were quite happy to consider extradition.”
The extradition process began at Birmingham Magistrates Court in the middle of 2008.
The successful extradition papers were then sent via the Home Office to the Federal Office of Justice in the US.
Further proceedings were held in which the US courts satisfied themselves that there was enough evidence to return Robinson to the UK to face trial.
Californian police arrested Robinson and West Midlands Police officers flew to the US to collect the paedophile.
Once back in Britain, he remained in custody until his trial.
Ms Wheeler said: “Until the very end, I believe he was always convinced that his charm and charisma would get him through and nobody would believe the victims.
“Child abuse usually will happen in private. With historical cases there won’t be documentary evidence, no fingerprints, no DNA, or there’s less likely to be those things.
“The Robinson case was unusual in that we had some documentary evidence.
“Letters a victim had received from Robinson were used in the trial. They were inappropriate, odd letters for the local parish priest to be sending to a young boy.
“They were almost love letters, highly inappropriate.
‘‘The same victim also taped a conversation in 1985 with Robinson. He recorded him as they talked in a park. There was some inappropriate language by Robinson. But there was no admission.”
At that time in 1985 only one victim – the man who would later track down his tormentor to the US trailer park – had complained about Robinson; both to the police and church.
“Going back to the 1980s, it would have been much harder to prosecute, particularly with just one victim,’’ said Ms Wheeler.
“There has been a change in attitude by the Church and we certainly had a large amount of documentation from them that was related to Robinson and the victims who had approached the Church over the years.
“There were three civil actions launched against the Church; I believe one was retracted and two were successful – the Church had paid out.
“One of the archbishops was on the witness list. We were trying not to call him because in fairness to him he didn’t really have a lot to do with it.
“He was reasonably new in post and so was really only going to be called as he was now the person to answer the questions, other people having long since died.”
Ms Wheeler said no new victims of Robinson had come forward from the USA – but she feared they may in the future.
“I’d be surprised if there weren’t other victims in the US, and some quite young people potentially.
“He was only 73 when convicted. It’s unlikely that a man who was in his 50s who had abused the last victim pretty much until the end, would not have abused other people once he arrived in America.”
She said of the Church’s approach to the abuse then and now: “The abuse was an amazingly long time ago, in terms of attitudes, in the way pretty much all institutions have dealt with child abuse.
“Having prosecuted children’s home cases and school abuse cases from the 60s, 70s and 80s, it’s a very different attitude now.”
Robinson has recently lost an appeal against sentence – but has not appealed against his conviction.
Ms Wheeler said: “Robinson was clearly manipulative, clever actually, because he kept this all under wraps for a very long time.
“But he was predatory. If you read the statements from beginning to end, in chronological order, you see the predatory manner in which he must have lined up the next victim as he drops the last one.
“I don’t think he understood what he had done. He thought it was perfectly reasonable and normal. The tape-recorded conversation, which was a key piece of evidence, suggested that Robinson thought he and the victim were in a relationship.
“That’s not what you say to somebody you had sex with when they were 11.’’
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Birmingham said: “As this matter may be the subject of further legal proceedings, it would not be appropriate for the Archdiocese of Birmingham to make any comment at this time.”