British Christian youth worker sentenced for attempt at online grooming


A Christian youth worker has received a 16-month prison sentence suspended for two years after he was caught attempting to groom children online.

His intended victim was in fact an undercover police officer posing as a 12-year-old girl.

Sam Rourke, 23, was involved at St John's Church in Leyland, Lancashire, and in the global Elevation Church movement.

According to the Lancashire Evening Post, Preston Crown Court was told he lived "two lives", one as a churchgoer working with children with learning difficulties and another "fantasy life, indulging in talking to young girls".

Rourke had admitted inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Prosecutor Francis McEntee said: "The defendant had been engaging in chat online, clearly in the belief he was dealing with either a 12 or 13-year-old, when in fact he was engaged in sexualised talk with an undercover police officer."

Rourke made contact with "Kayla" and asked her how old she was. The pair chatted using Skype and he suggested he could come to her house. "Kayla" said her mother was coming home.

He later suggested he could give her lessons in kissing and that she should perform a sexual act on herself.

In sentencing him, Judge Woolman told him: "Fortunately it wasn't a real person at the end. If it had been I would have no option but to imprison you immediately.

"You were someone who ran two lives, you come from a good family, you are clearly a devout and God-fearing person, but behind that other side of that wall you indulge in this fantasy life, indulging in talking to young girls.

"You were not the scheming, manipulative person one might come across. Nonethless what you have done is unlawful and reprehensible."

Defending Rourke, Benjamin Narian said: "There is a genuine expression of remorse. He had been using chatrooms since he was a child and had been on the other side – it would appear adult males have encouraged him to engage in acts himself.

"As a teenager he lived in an environment with certain pressures to do with his faith and his views on sex, which he has struggled with. He struggled with aspects to his sexuality."