Christ Church professor sentenced to jail over child abuse images

Oxford theology professor and former pastor Jan Joosten has been sentenced to a year in prison and placed on the sex offender register in France for downloading 28,000 child abuse images and videos.

Joosten, 61, has held the Regius professorship of Hebrew at Oxford since 2014, and is affiliated with Christ Church.  Agence France-Presse reported that Joosten admitted to downloading the images and videos, including, depictions of child rape over a six-year period, from 2014–May 2020, after being exposed by Strasbourg LION (laboratoire d’investigation opérationnelle du numérique) investigation.

Joosten was sentenced on the 18th June by the Saverne (Bas-Rhin) criminal court to one year in prison and to be placed on the sex offenders register. The Oxford Blue understands that Joosten is currently suspended from his professorship.

This is the second paedophile professor scandal Oxford has faced this year, after an investigation by The Oxford Blue revealed that Peter King of Pembroke College Oxford, had pleaded guilty to making child pornography. This is also the second Christ Church theology professor scandal this year. In March, an investigation by The Oxford Blue also revealed that Christ Church classics professor Dirk Obbink had been arrested over theft of ancient papyrus from the Sackler Library.

Joosten told the court of his addiction as “a secret garden, in contradiction with myself”. Joosten was not immediately admitted to prison, and his sentence may be amended by an independent judge. The court ordered Joosten take a three-year treatment programme and barred him from any activity which would bring him into contact with minors.

Christ Church addressed their students in a statement made earlier this evening:

“The University has informed any staff and students who would have had contact with him and has provided them with the contacts of the welfare and support services, in case that any of them require additional support.

“Christ Church is fully committed to safeguarding and has robust policies and processes in place. Our thoughts are with anyone affected by this news. If anyone requires immediate support, they should contact Christ Church or the police.”

A representive from Oxford University told The Blue:

“We can confirm that, following the conviction in France of Professor Jan Joosten for possession of images of child pornography, he has been suspended by the Faculty of Oriental Studies and Christ Church pending further action.

“We have informed any staff and students who would have had contact with him and have provided them with the contacts of the University’s welfare and support services in case any of them require additional support.”

Christ Church have been contacted for comment.

This article was amended at 20:31 BST to include Oxford University’s statement.

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