Former Sheffield Salvation Army cadet leader has been jailed after he sexually abused girl for nearly two years

A former Salvation Army cadet leader played Scrabble with a young girl before he began sexually abusing her for nearly two years.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 8:33 am

Sheffield Crown Court heard on November 3 how Wesley Hedge, aged 72, of Dunkeld Road, Ecclesall, Sheffield, abused the young teenager for nearly two years from the late 1970s while he was a cadet leader and she had been a cadet at a Salvation Army group in Sheffield.

Recorder Thomas Moran told Hedge: "It is only later in life that she was able to see this for what it was, and not a relationship - but abuse.”

He added: “This has had a very significant impact on her life. When it happened she felt confused, guilty and alone and she carried the shame thereafter for many years.”

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Pictured is Wesley Hedge, aged 72, of Dunkeld Road, Ecclesall, Sheffield, who was sentenced to five years of custody after he admitted six counts of indecent assault against a child aged under 16.

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Ian Goldsack, prosecuting, said the abuse began when he touched her breasts at his home while his wife was out and he later assaulted her on a day-trip on a bus when he placed her hand on his genitals and used a jacket over the top to cover up what he was doing.

Mr Goldsack added that on another occasion he was wearing shorts with no underwear and placed her hand under his shorts and onto his genitals and similar conduct continued on a weekly basis including the defendant touching her genitals and oral sex.

The offending ceased when the youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons, formed a relationship with someone her own age, according to Mr Goldsack.

She later stated that she had felt afraid and ashamed at the time and she was unable to participate in ordinary teenage activities and it had damaged her relationship with the church and her own body and she started self-harming and developed anorexia.

Mr Goldsack said: “She believes the abuse robbed her of the opportunity to have long-term relationships and children.”

Hedge, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault against a child aged under 16 including four counts which each represented at least five offences.

Richard Davies, defending, said: “There is genuine remorse for what he did. I think that comes through with respect, from the references and most of all from the guilty pleas at the earliest stage when these matters came before the court in August.”

Mr Davies added: “It’s his own fault and he’s entirely to blame for all of this and he knows that but he has done everything he can to stop the offending in its tracks in the sense of pleading guilty for what he has done and not dragging matters out.”

Recorder Moran said Hedge began abusing the youngster after he had played Scrabble with her and he had talked with her about school to gain her confidence.

He told Hedge: “This began an increasing pattern of abuse and it is right that it has been pointed out there was an element of grooming here.”

Recorder Moran also added that one of the consequences of Hedge’s offending is that he has brought shame on an organisation which might deter others from joining it in the future.

He sentenced Hedge to five years of custody and the defendant was placed indefinitely on the Sex Offenders Register.