Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester, was arrested in 1992 after beating a 17-year-old novice monk and encouraging him to pray naked.
However, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to charge him after a number of VIPs including MPs, public school headmasters and the Lord Chief Justice phoned police to stand up for him.
Among 2,000 letters of support sent on behalf of Ball were some from cabinet ministers and one from an unidentified Royal, the Old Bailey heard.
Ball, now 83, was today jailed for 32 months, two decades after he was let off with a caution for carrying out a string of sex attacks on vulnerable youths.
The former bishop – who once described Prince Charles as ‘a loyal friend’ – preyed on his victims for sexual pleasure when they came to his home in Litlington, East Sussex.
Many were teenagers or in their early 20s at the time they sought out the bishop through his ‘Give A Year For Christ’ scheme.