A FORMER Bicester church leader has been jailed for eight years in the United States after admitting sexually abusing children.

The Rev Robert Dando is also being investigated by Thames Valley Police over “child protection issues”.

Former Oxfordshire magistrate Dando, 47, was a minister at Orchard Baptist Fellowship, which meets at Cooper School, Bicester, between 1995 and 2006.

He was also a governor at Kings Meadow School.

Dando was visiting a friend in Fairfax, Virginia, when he was arrested on July 23 last year, after allegations of sexual abuse were made.

Last November, Dando admitted four counts of sexually molesting two young boys over several years.

The Rev Steve Barber, of Orchard Baptist Fellowship, said: “Orchard Baptist Fellowship, especially those who were part of the church when he was the minister, has received this news with enormous pain and sadness.

“We are relieved that justice has now been done. The church is appalled both by the nature of the offences in themselves and the betrayal of trust that they represent.

“Our hearts go out to all those affected by this situation. We are remembering them in our prayers at this difficult time.”

In December 2009, a 21-year-old told US police Dando abused him between 1995 and 1999, while he was between eight and 13.

During that investigation, a second victim, now aged 17, came to light. He said Dando abused him when he was aged seven or eight.

A police spokesman said: “Thames Valley Police is currently following a number of leads and enquiries relating to child protection issues involving a 47-year-old man, that are alleged to have occurred in the UK.”

Anyone with information can call Dc Mark Jenkins on 01295 754630, the Police Enquiry Centre on 08458 505505 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.