Former Priest Charged Over Sex Attacks

A retired Church of England priest has been charged with sex attacks on 18 girls and boys dating back 50 years.

Canon Gordon Rideout, 73, is accused of committing 38 offences over an 11-year period between 1962 and 1973.

The charges follow a nine-month inquiry by Sussex Police detectives into allegations of child sex abuse in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Rideout, of Filching Close, Wannock, Polegate, East Sussex, will appear on bail at Mid Sussex Magistrates' Court on July 16.

A total of 36 of the 38 alleged offences are of indecent assault on girls and boys in their early teens, a Sussex Police statement said today (Thursday 28th June).

Of those, 31 are alleged to have been committed at a property in Crawley, West Sussex, and one in Barkingside, Essex, between 1962 and 1968.

A further four indecent assaults are alleged to have taken place in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, between 1971 and 1973.

The other two allegations are of attempted unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl in Crawley between 1962 and 1966.

Rideout was arrested on March 6 and freed on police bail pending further inquiries before being charged yesterday following more interviews.

A police spokesman said: "The charges, authorised by the South East Complex Case Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service, follow a nine-month inquiry by Sussex Police detectives into allegations of sex abuse of young people in the 1960s and early 1970s.

"None of the charges relate to any allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise that there is nothing to suggest that any children are currently at risk."

A Diocese of Chichester statement said: "The diocese is committed to ensuring that our churches are safe communities for children and vulnerable adults and to giving the highest priority to statutory safeguarding practice and Church of England policies on safeguarding."

It added: "At every stage of this investigation the Church continues to co-operate fully with the police and other statutory agencies.

"The diocese is not aware of any allegations of recent or current offending.

"The diocese repeats its commitment to support those who come forward to assist the police with inquiries during the course of this investigation. 

"No further comment will be made while the investigation continues."

A 24-hour helpline, manned by staff at the NSPCC, has been set up on 0800 389 5344.

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