Diocese of Chichester in the spotlight again for child abuse

July 10, 2012
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We hear this week that another Church of England priest who formerly worked in the Chichester diocese has been charged with offences against young teenagers – both boys and girls – going back to the 1960’s and 1970’s. Retired Canon Gordon Rideout, 73, is accused of committing 38 offences of indecent assault and attempted unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and is due to appear at Mid Sussex Magistrates’ Court on the 16th July. The diocese said in a statement issued to the Press Association that it takes child protection seriously and is not aware of any recent or current offending. Earlier this year the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered an enquiry into the diocese and its legacy of failings in child protection, the first “Archiepiscopal Visitation” ordered by an Archbishop since the 1890’s. Two Anglican priests who worked in Chichester have already been convicted of abusing boys in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard. They had been allowed to continue in post despite senior church officials knowing they were facing serious child abuse allegations. A review into their cases by a senior judge, Baroness Butler-Sloss concluded that there was “a lack of understanding of the seriousness of historic child abuse” across the Chichester diocese “and probably in many other dioceses”. In May this year two further arrests were made: The Reverend Keith Denford, formerly the vicar of St John the Evangelist Church in Burgess Hill was charged with 3 counts of abusing boys under 16 during the late 1980’s. Michael Mytton, a church organist in the Lewes area, faced charges of aiding and abetting the assault of a boy in Cuckfield between 1987 and 1990. Was there a paedophile ring in operation at the heart of the Church of England in Chichester?

The NSPCC has set up a helpline for anyone affected by this news – 0800 389 5344.

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