A PROMINENT Church of Scotland minister who tied, gagged, and

blindfolded young girls before photographing them in indecent positions

was jailed yesterday.

The Rev. Gordon Haggarty, 49, a ''local celebrity'' in Aberdeen

admitted 10 charges of lewd, libidinous, and indecent behaviour

involving eight girls aged between eight and 13 when he appeared at the

High Court in Edinburgh.

Sentencing him to 18 months' imprisonment, Lord Ross told Haggarty:

''This was a grave breach of trust. If a minister of religion cannot be

trusted with young children, who can?

''Your treatment of these girls was disgusting and it is not

surprising that some at least felt embarrassed and dirty. No-one can

possibly know what the long term effect will be.''

Lord Ross said he accepted that there had been no physical contact,

indecent handling, or touching in the case.

However, he said there must necessarily be outrage that someone in his

position had had indecent practices with young girls.

The court had been told how Haggarty was a Jekyll and Hyde character

with completely different public and private profiles. Over a period of

almost nine years he carried out the offences in the church vestry, in

his home, and in the home of one of his victims.

Advocate-depute Mr Hugh Matthews said he had met the girls through

Girl Guides, a primary school lifesaving class, and a summer camp.

The pattern was broadly similar with Haggarty suggesting adventure

stories to the girls which were to be published in a church magazine and

photographs were to be taken.

''The story had a theme of kidnap and rescue with the emphasis fairly

and squarely on the kidnap scenes. No rescues ever took place.''

The girls always had their hands tied behind their backs, their

underwear was visible, and they were asked to look scared for the


The offences came to light when one of his victims, by then a young

woman, lost her grandfather. When the family was discussing the possible

minister for the funeral and Haggarty's name was mentioned the girl was

horrified and called him a pervert. The police were informed and some

girls came forward as a result of press coverage. Others were discovered

during inquiries.

When police showed Haggarty the photographs he had taken he became


When asked if he had taken the photographs for his own gratification

Haggarty had replied: ''I don't think so. I am not aware of it anyway. I

certainly hope not but I can't tell you why I didn't put them out.''

Mr Herbert Kerrigan, for Haggarty, said that he had resigned from the

North Church of St Andrew and demitted his ministry in spite of a number

of people urging him to stay.

Psychiatric reports, particularly relating to his personal history,

sexual development, and marital history revealed the basic problem and

the background to the offences, said Mr Kerrigan.

He asked Lord Ross to consider a fine or probation and said that many

people had been very supportive, despite the awful nature of the case.

Lord Ross told Haggarty: ''I recognise the good work you have done in

the church. Referees describe you as a man of deep Christian conviction,

a gifted preacher, and a caring minister, and all that is in your


''The fact is that over eight years on a number of occasions you have

indulged in unnatural practices with no fewer that eight girls.

''The psychiatric report describes you as being a Dr Jekyll and Mr

Hyde. If that is a sound analogy it is your conduct as Hyde that

principally concerns me in this court. This court must do what it can to

protect young girls from being abused.''

Ms Janine Roberts, of the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, said last

night: ''This case underlines the fact that respectable men are equally

prone to abusing children as other men.

''We are concerned that the Judge in this case has given so much

attention to the respectability of the Rev. Haggarty without giving

sufficient attention to the seriousness of the abuse of his power over

these children.''