Abuse Survivors Blog

Two retired Church of England priests have been arrested in the Eastbourne area on susp

Written by Tracey Emmott on 09 Mar 2012

Canon Gordon Rideout, 73, is suspected of sexually assaulting nine young people between 1965 and 1972 in Crawley, West Sussex; Barkingside in north-east London and Middle Wallop in Hampshire.
Former parish priest Robert Coles, 70, is suspected of sexually assaulting three young men in West Sussex in the late 1970s and mid-1980s.
Last year a confidential review commission by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss into historic allegations of sexual abuse by Church of England priests against young people in Sussex and elsewhere was received by the Diocese of Chichester and Sussex Police. A team of specialist child protection detectives from Sussex Police began an investigation which led to the arrests of the two priests.
The arrests also follow on-going church inquiries into Bishop Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes, who is facing disciplinary action for alleged safeguarding mistakes. The Archbishop of Canterbury has ordered an investigation into child protection failings in churches in Sussex.
Sussex police said several allegations against Canon Rideout were made to police in 1972 but no criminal proceedings resulted.
In 2001 another related allegation was made to the police and an arrest was made then but there was insufficient evidence to justify criminal proceedings.
In the 1960s Canon Rideout was a chaplain at two Barnado's homes in London.
He was also chaplain at Moira House Girls School in Eastbourne until 2003 and chair of governors at St Mary's special school in Bexhill and Bishop Bell school in Eastbourne. He conducted services at All Saints Church, Eastbourne until 2010.
In 1997 an allegation was made against Robert Coles was investigated in 1997, and an arrest was made, but again there was insufficient evidence to justify criminal proceedings at that time.
The other allegations have only recently emerged as a result of the current inquiry.
The Right Reverend Mark Sowerby, Acting Bishop of Chichester, said: "I can assure the public that the two people who have been arrested were not in licensed ministry recently and the cases are of a historic nature."
09 March 2012

Topics: News

Tracey Emmott

Written by Tracey Emmott

Tracey Emmott is a solicitor with over 25 years’ experience in personal injury law. Previously she was a partner of a regional firm in the Home Counties.