A former Catholic priest charged with a serious sex offence against a male teenager today admitted undergoing therapy for his sexual attraction to young boys.

Brian Rutledge, 69, admitted that he had carried out unlawful activities on boys before 1990.

Southampton Crown Court was told how in every parish he served, including several in Hampshire, he set up boys clubs and football teams.

However after inquiries were made into his activities - because of what the defence barrister Stewart Patterson referred to as "talk and gossip" - he left his Stubbington parish and went to work as a hospital chaplain in Bournemouth.

Just 18 months later, Rutledge, of Waldergrave Close, Woolston, Southampton, told how he underwent therapy in America with the bishop's support, in 1999.

Rutledge said how the therapy helped him to deal with the sexual attraction he felt for young boys.

He said: "My feelings of attraction to teenage boys continued but I learnt to control them."

He said his feelings stemmed from an unhappy childhood.

"I did not get the care or love that I needed. No hugs, no cuddles and I missed it a lot," he added.

Rutledge said he learnt through therapy that he had been in a lot of denial thinking that if the person did not run away it was all right.

He said: "I should not be doing it, but my need drove me on. I felt I was in the foothills of understanding, that I should not be doing this to young boys. "

Brian Rutledge, who has pleaded guilty to indecent assault, denies one charge of attempting a serious sexual offence.

The incident is alleged to have happened more than 25 years ago, and Rutledge has since retired from the church.

Rutledge told the court that he had met the alleged victim, now 43, at many camps before.

He said: "He was a very pleasant young man and I just liked being in his company."

Rutledge recalled meeting the victim during a pilgrimage to Turin, Italy.

He added: "I liked his company and I thought he liked mine. I invited him to my room. I was getting attracted to him in that way. I longed to be close to him and to hold him."

He went on to say, "I wanted him to come close. I think I said let's take our clothes off." He said nothing further happened.