Thursday, March 17, 2011

Female chaplain made false rape claim against Catholic priest after their relationship ended

A female chaplain at a Roman Catholic college narrowly avoided jail after she admitted falsely accusing a parish priest of rape when he ended their affair.

Father Patrick Udoma lost his job and his home and his life was ‘completely devastated’ when Emma Templeton, 44, lied to police that she had been seriously sexually assaulted by him, a court heard.

The 45-year-old suffered the humiliation of being arrested by police at his church while conducting a funeral, had his home searched, mobile phone confiscated and was locked up for 23 hours in a cell and questioned.

Despite Father Udoma insisting that the pair had enjoyed a consensual relationship, officers refused to accept his protestations of innocence.

It wasn’t until five months later – when police discovered more than 200 intimate text messages between the couple on Templeton’s phone – that he was finally exonerated and she was arrested instead.

Templeton, who worked at Cardinal Newman University College, Birmingham, was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment, suspended for a year, after admitting perverting the course of justice.

James Burbidge, QC, the Recorder of Birmingham, said he accepted Templeton had not acted maliciously when she made the rape allegation, but added: ‘You have committed a very serious offence.

‘It was created when your relationship with Father Udoma appeared to be coming to an end, and from what you said to him you knew you could cause him trouble.’

Birmingham Crown Court heard that Father Udoma started a relationship with Templeton in 2008 while based at St Rose of Lima Catholic Church, in Weoley Castle, Birmingham.

Shenaz Musaffer, prosecuting, told the court that Templeton first made an allegation of rape against the priest to colleagues in January 2009. She also claimed to have tried, on two occasions, to take her own life by taking an overdose of paracetamol.

However, it wasn’t until more than a year later, in April last year, that Templeton, of Northfield, Birmingham, made a formal rape complaint to the police.

Father Udoma was arrested and, under questioning, admitted he had engaged in consensual sex with Templeton on two occasions but said their relationship was over.

He told officers she had warned him that she would not be able to guarantee what she would do if he ‘hurt’ her.

Father Udoma was released on bail but it wasn’t until September, when police discovered hundreds of text messages on Templeton’s phone, in which she declared her love and respect for the priest, that he was finally told no further action would be taken against him.

Templeton was arrested and, the court heard, initially claimed she had lied because the priest had some kind of hold over her.

Eventually, however, she told officers she had made the allegations up.

Sally Hancox, defending, said Templeton was of previously good character but had ‘issues’ from her childhood and adolescent life which meant there was still an element of the ‘emotional child’ in her.

She added: ‘She allowed herself to become embroiled in a situation which for many reasons was inappropriate.’

Following the case, a former parishioner, who did not want to be named, told the Birmingham Mail that Father Udoma had been ‘tormented’ by Templeton’s ‘wicked’ claims and ‘didn’t deserve what happened to him’.

She said he was conducting a funeral at his church on April 15 last year when police arrived to take him into custody.

It is understood Father Udoma has since been reinstated in a different parish.