The Wokingham Paper

Priest kicked out of church after abusing wife for 14 years

A PRIEST who previously served across the borough has been kicked out of the Church after abusing his wife for 14 years.

The Revd Paul Parks was the parish priest for Saint Nicholas Hurst and Saint Mary the Virgin, Winnersh in 2004, and moved to Saint Sebastian’s Church, Wokingham in 2005 — where he stayed for two years.

Earlier this year, the 60-year-old admitted numerous allegations of domestic abuse and was removed from office and banned from the Church of England for two years.

He had been serving at St Helen’s Church in Hastings, East Sussex at the time.

However the incidents of abuse have been documented throughout his time serving in Hurst, Winnersh and Wokingham.

It was revealed at the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal that the night of his induction to the parish of Hurst and Winnersh, Mr Parks had been violent towards his wife Lois, and threatened her — which she reported to the Area Dean, although subsequently retracted it.

And in 2005, when Mr Parks moved to St Sebastian’s Church in Wokingham, his wife continued to make allegations of abusive and manipulative behaviour.

These included abusive text messages, holding her in an armlock and driving at high speed towards a brick wall while she was in the passenger seat.

They were reported to the then Bishop of Reading, Bishop Stephen Cottrell, who referred Mr Parks to psychological help.

The Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal also heard that Mr Parks had threatened his wife with a dagger-shaped letter opener, which he pushed against her head and threatened to kill her with.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, Mrs Parks reported to the police that she had been a victim of domestic violence for 14 years, and that she believed her husband had PTSD, mental health issues and was suicidal.

That month, Mr Parks spent six weeks in a secure psychiatric unit. He was diagnosed with Combat Related Military PTSD that year, relating to when he served in the SAS and 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment.

A decision was then made by the Crown Prosecution Service to drop the case, after Mrs Parks withdrew her support for any prosecution of her husband.

At the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal, Mr Parks was removed from office and prohibited from exercising any functions as a member of the Church of England Clergy for two years.

His name was added to the Archbishops’ List — also referred to as the Lambeth List — as a means of monitoring Mr Parks’ future movements within the Church.

A spokesperson from the Diocese of Oxford, which oversees the associated parishes, said: “Any instance of domestic abuse is abhorrent.

“It is something that affects people from all walks of life, and it shatters lives.

“The findings of the tribunal panel show the hidden horrors all too many people face.

“We strongly encourage anyone experience domestic abuse to contact National Domestic Abuse Helpline, available 24 hours a day, on 0808 2000 247.”

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