Canon Gordon Rideout denies child sex attacks in Sussex

Canon Gordon Rideout Canon Gordon Rideout is accused of abusing girls and boys at a children's home

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A retired Anglican priest accused of 37 sex attacks on children at a Sussex home told his trial he may have been "touchy-feely" with some of them.

But he insisted at Lewes Crown Court that he had never assaulted any child at the children's home, in Crawley.

Canon Gordon Rideout, 74, of Polegate, East Sussex, denies 35 indecent assaults and two attempted rapes.

He is accused of abusing boys and girls at Ifield Hall between 1962 and 1973, when he had been an assistant curate.

A series of witnesses have given evidence, telling the court they were sexually abused by Canon Rideout.

Hug or kiss

He told jurors he had acted in a "touchy-feely" way.

"If a child was miserable, I'd hug or kiss them, perhaps if they were little," he said.

Asked by his defence barrister, Frances Oldham QC, to elaborate, he said: "I'd put my hands around them and give them a hug.

"I probably kissed them on the head and said, 'Cheer up'."

He told the court he only remembered staying at the home on three occasions over a three-year period, and he said he had never visited the girls' dormitories.

The trial continues.

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