Sex abuse priest Gordon Rideout jailed for 10 years

media captionCanon Gordon Rideout had denied abusing girls and boys at a children's home

An Anglican priest who abused children in the 1960s and 70s has been jailed for 10 years.

Canon Gordon Rideout, 74, from East Sussex, who is now retired, was found guilty of 36 separate sex offences by a jury at Lewes Crown Court.

The attacks took place between 1962 and 1973 in Hampshire and Sussex.

Most of them were carried out at Ifield Hall children's home in Crawley, when he was an assistant curate. The charges related to 16 different children.

Rideout, from Polegate, had denied 34 indecent assaults and two attempted rapes.

He was acquitted of one charge of indecent assault against a five-year-old child.

'Position of trust'

Rideout was the assistant curate at St Mary's Church in Southgate, Crawley, from September 1962 to September 1965.

During that time he regularly visited the Barnardo's children's home, Ifield Hall, which has since been demolished.

The majority of the offences took place there, although he was also convicted of four charges of indecent assault on two girls at the Middle Wallop army base, where he was a padre at St Michael's Church on the site.

In 1972 he was accused of three indecent assaults at the base, but was cleared by a military hearing.

He was also the subject of a police investigation in 2001.

Nigel Pilkington, head of the CPS South East complex casework unit, said: "As an assistant curate and then chaplain, Gordon Rideout was in a position of trust which he systemically abused, indecently assaulting the vulnerable youngsters that he met over a number of years.

'Brutal beatings'

"He was able to wander through Ifield Hall and the gardens, even visiting children when they were sick and alone in bed.

media captionGordon Rideout also faced trial in 1972 for indecent assault but was acquitted

"One victim recalled how the children would hide under their covers when he came into their dormitories."

Mr Pilkington said a number of his victims attempted to speak out about the abuse, but were subjected to "brutal beatings" when they did.

"Some of his victims told police in interviews that it simply 'wasn't worth complaining' because of the punishment they would receive in return," he said.

"Instead the victims hid what happened to them for many years and none of us can begin to imagine the impact that has had on their lives."

'Destructive suffering'

Barnardo's director of children's services, Sam Monaghan, said: "We are extremely saddened by this case and our deepest sympathies go out to those who have suffered; it has taken great courage for them to step forward and relive their experiences.

"We are glad that justice has been served and believe it is critical that abusers are held to account for their crimes, regardless of when they took place."

Following the sentencing, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said Rideout had caused "immeasurable and destructive suffering over a long period of time".

"He has also betrayed the trust and respect of many who have valued his ministry," he said.

But in a statement, Dr Warner noted that the Diocese of Chichester was left with the question of why it had taken so long for "these grave accusations to be taken seriously and brought to trial".

"What lessons do we all have to learn from this terrible catalogue of abuse about the strength and effectiveness of our communication within and between agencies that have responsibility for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults?

"In the Diocese of Chichester we shall continue to interrogate those procedures and to do our very best to ensure that we deliver the quality and standard that others expect of us."

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.