Oxford Professor Sentenced Over Child Abuse Images

Oxford Professor and former Pastor, Jan Joosten, 61, has been sentenced in France to a year in prison for downloading 28,000 images and videos of child abuse.

Joosten, who lives in the Bas-Rhin region of France, has also been placed on the sex offenders register in France and a three year treatment programme was recommended by the Judge.

He is also barred from any activity that involves contact with minors.

Joosten is a former pastor, an Oxford University Theology Professor and a father of four.

He holds the religious professorship of Hebrew at Oxford and is also involved with the Christ Church College.

He spent six years as a pastor in his native country of Belgium and is considered to be one of the most “distinguished biblical scholars of his generation.”

Joosten studied in Belgium, the US and Israel, and also taught at the University of Strasbourg for 20 years before joining Oxford in 2014.

He still holds a role at Strasbourg and was, until recently, editor-in-chief of Vetus Testamentum, a leading journal of Old Testament studies.

In June 2020, he was sentenced by the court in the city of Saverne over the possession of approximately 27,000 images and 1,000 videos.

The images were downloaded over a six year period and included illustrations of child rape.

The images were discovered through a lengthy police investigation by cybercrime specialists in Strasbourg.

Joosten admitted the facts, telling the court “he was relieved to be arrested”, describing his addiction as “a secret garden in contradiction with myself”

The court heard from the defence that Joosten’s family were aware of his offences and did not think that he should be imprisoned as he was a first time offender.

Further, they say, he has sought psychiatric help voluntarily.

Christ Church College sent students a statement saying that it the institution is:

“… fully committed to safeguarding and has robust policies and processes in place. Our thoughts are with anyone affected by this news.”

A statement has also been issued by Oxford University, saying:

“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 anyone requires additional support.”

 

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