Ex-priest Robert Coles charged with 29 child sex crimes

Father Robert Coles Robert Coles is suspected of sexually assaulting three boys over a six-year period

A retired Church of England priest from Eastbourne has been charged with 29 sexual offences against three boys.

Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, is alleged to have committed the acts from 1978 to 1984 in West Sussex, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and the Isle of Wight.

He was arrested on 6 March following a nine-month investigation and released on conditional bail - but charged on Thursday following further interviews.

He is due to appear at Chichester Magistrates' Court on 5 September.

24-hour helpline

Mr Coles is accused of 13 sexual assaults on a boy, then aged between 15 and 16, in Chichester, West Sussex, from 1982 to 1984, Sussex Police said.

There are eight alleged offences on another boy, then aged between 10 and 13, in Broadbridge Heath, West Sussex; Devon; Cornwall; and the Isle of Wight between 1978 and 1981.

And he is accused of eight further offences on a third boy, then aged between 10 and 13, in Broadbridge Heath; Somerset; and Devon between 1978 and 1982.

The retired priest was again released on conditional police bail following the charges.

A 24-hour helpline manned by staff at the children's charity NSPCC has been set up by the Diocese of Chichester on 0800 389 5344.

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