A Baptist church minister faces up to 80 years in a United States jail after admitting multiple child sex abuse charges.

Reverend Robert Dando, 46, a senior minister at Worcester Park Baptist Church, Surrey, pleaded guilty at court in Fairfax, Virginia, to four counts of sexually molesting the two young sons of family friends over a period of several years.

Dando sexually abused the boys between 1995 and 1999 from the ages of seven and eight.

County officials told the Fairfax County Circuit Court one of the victims said Dando molested him by touching his genitals on 50-60 different occasions.

Dando will not be sentenced until January 28 but was warned by Judge Robert Smith he faced a minimum sentence of four years and a maximum sentence of 80 years.

He was also told he could be deported. Dando, from Sherbrooke Way, resigned from Worcester Park Baptist Church after he was arrested in the United States in July.

He was also removed from membership of the Boys’ Brigade in which his wife Janice is a vice-president.

A Baptist Union spokeswoman said: “The church would like to say there was a great sense of sadness when we received the news last night (Tues) that Robert has pleaded guilty to the four counts.

"Our thoughts and prayers are very much with everyone involved in this situation.

“If any allegations are made over here in the UK, within one of our churches, it would always immediately be reported to the police and social services.”

A former magistrate in Oxfordshire, Dando was understood to have been a member of the Oxfordshire Family Panel, which deals with child care and access proceedings.

It also came to light in 2001 he was embroiled in another child sex abuse scandal when he was a minister at Orchard Baptist Fellowship in Bicester.

Dr Anthony Gray, the leader of the church at the time, was convicted of serious sexual offences against a 14-year-old boy he met over the internet.

At the time Dando said: “The police have told us they have no reason for suspicion or concern about anything. All our youth work is carried out within proper guidelines.” A Baptist Union spokeswoman said the incident was not related to the current situation with Dando.

She added: “The Orchard Baptist Fellowship is not aware Robert Dando was in anyway associated with the offences that led to the imprisonment of Anthony Gray.”