A man has been found guilty of the historic sexual abuse of a child he met through an Aberdeen church.
Stewart Petrie, who is the son of Craigiebuckler Parish Church minister Kenneth Petrie, abused the girl at locations, including Craigiebuckler Manse, on a number of occasions two decades ago.
Following his conviction, a sheriff praised the “strength and bravery” of the 38-year-old’s victim.
Sheriff Ian Wallace told Petrie: “Your actions and the way your actions were dealt with and, indeed, not dealt with properly by the adults around you at the time have had a lasting impact on your victim.”
Petrie had denied the charge against him but was found guilty by majority by a jury following a trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
Petrie committed the offence on various occasions between 2003 and 2005 at locations in Aberdeen and around Scotland including Craigiebuckler Manse.
He used lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour towards the girl, who was aged between 12 and 14, sending her sexual messages, kissing her and carrying out a sex act on her.
‘He recognises he was the older person and should have known better’
Petrie, who was aged between 18 and 20 when the offence was committed, did not react as the jury returned their verdict of guilty.
Sheriff Ian Wallace told Petrie, of Burgh Gardens, Dornoch: “You have been convicted of very serious sexual offending against a young female which had a lasting impact on her.
“It’s through her strength and bravery that you have been brought to justice.”
Defence counsel Alistair Sloan said his client lives with his wife and children and is currently unemployed, having resigned from his job at Dornoch’s Church of Scotland-run care home Oversteps following the outcome of the trial.
He said: “He recognises he was the older person and should have known better and takes responsibility for that.
“He more or less maintains the position he did at the trial.”
Mr Sloan added Petrie was “immature” at the time of the offence.
‘She thought she had done something wrong’
Sheriff Wallace told Petrie: “When you were 18, you engaged in sexual activity with a 13-year-old child over a prolonged period.
“She looked up to you. You were both a member of the same church and she looked up to you as a member of that church.
“You engaged in sexual activity with her and she was too young to consent to that conduct.
“The impact of your actions on the victim is clear.
“Your actions and the way your actions were dealt with, and indeed not dealt with properly, by the adults around you at the time have had a lasting impact on your victim.
“She thought she had done something wrong. It is clear it was you who had committed wrong and caused substantial harm by your actions.”
The sheriff said he also had to consider Petrie’s age at the time and lack of maturity, as well as his lack of offending before or since.
He imposed a three-year probation order with requirements to be under supervision for three years and complete 300 hours of unpaid work.
He also ordered Petrie to complete the Moving Forward Making Changes programme and placed him on the sex offenders register for three years.
A spokesman for CrossReach – the operating name of the Social Care Council of the Church of Scotland – said: “We were made aware during Mr Petrie’s employment with us that allegations of a historical nature had been made against him, for which he was subsequently charged.
“We took immediate steps to notify the relevant regulators, carried out a full risk assessment and took steps to follow the advice we were given whilst the case was subject to police investigation.
“All necessary steps were taken to ensure that bail conditions were met and we are satisfied that during that period Mr Petrie’s conduct was appropriate. Mr Petrie is now no longer employed by CrossReach.
“Our thoughts are very much with the young woman affected.”
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