A Church in Wales vicar has been banned from office for sending text messages of a “sexual and intimate nature” to a teenage girl.
The Reverend David Waters, vicar of Gelligaer, near Caerphilly, went before a disciplinary tribunal last year.
The tribunal recognised the 61-year-old was “suffering from a mental illness” when he sent the texts.
The ban is to remain in force until he provides medical opinion he is no longer at risk of repeat behaviour.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Church in Wales confirmed: “The Reverend David Waters was referred to the disciplinary tribunal of the Church in Wales, in respect of an allegation of conduct giving just cause for scandal or offence committed during his time as an incumbent in the parish of Gelligaer.
“Having admitted the offence, Mr Waters has been inhibited (prevented) from holding a licence or obtaining permission to officiate in any diocese in the Church in Wales.”
‘Scandalous and offensive’
The Church in Wales said that at the Cardiff tribunal last October Mr Waters admitted, through his solicitors, that he had sent texts to the girl on various days before 31 May 2007.
A Church in Wales statement read: “The matter was heard in Cardiff on 31 October 2008 when, through his solicitors, the respondent admitted the offence that on various days before the 31 May 2007 he sent to a teenage female person under 18 years of age, inappropriate text messages, in that they contained words or phrases that were unseemly and of a sexual and intimate nature. He further accepted that such conduct was scandalous and offensive.”
The ban will stay in place until he can provide the written medical evidence to a bishop that he is no longer at risk of repeat behaviour.
At that stage, the church said, it would be up to the individual bishop to decide whether the ban should be lifted.
The church said it felt the ban was sufficient punishment, as no criminal offence was deemed to have taken place, and the incidents did not prompt a police investigation.
“However, it is clear that the Church in Wales took this matter very seriously, which is why he was suspended from his post in 2007, and the matter was referred to the tribunal,” added a spokesperson.
Technically, Mr Waters still holds the title of priest, as he has not been “defrocked”.
However, the tribunal’s decision means he is unable to officiate in any churches that come under a Church of Wales diocese until the ban is lifted.