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Child-abuse pair found guilty

12 April 2013


Court appearance: the Revd Keith Wilkie Denford arrives at Hove Crown Court on 13 March

Court appearance: the Revd Keith Wilkie Denford arrives at Hove Crown Court on 13 March

A RETIRED priest and a former church organist have been found guilty of child sex-abuse offences, committed between 1987 and 1990.

On Friday of last week, the Revd Keith Wilkie Denford, aged 77, from Shoreham, who was the Vicar of St John's, Burgess Hill, West Sussex, from 1985 to 1990, was found guilty on three charges of indecently assaulting two boys. Michael Mytton, aged 68, an organist from East Chiltington, who worked with Mr Denford, was also found guilty on three charges.

The judge at Hove Crown Court said that the pair, charged in May (News, 11 May), had committed "a grave breach of trust". Both were released on bail, and will be sentenced on 2 May.

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said: "The diocese fully acknowledges the suffering caused both to survivors of abuse and their families. We deeply regret the betrayal of trust in the context of public pastoral ministry, and we extend our prayers and support to those caught up in the events highlighted by this case. . . Our safeguarding procedures have been revised and updated, and I am committed to ensuring that every person is safe in our church communities."

On Tuesday, a judge at Sheffield Crown Court jailed the Revd John Yallop, aged 65, for three years. Mr Yallop, who was Vicar of St Peter's, Ellesmere, from 1986 to 1988, pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault committed against a 16-year-old girl, who first made a complaint in 1987.

The court heard that Mr Yallop remembered a meeting with the then Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd David Lunn, about a complaint that had been made, and that the Bishop had advised Mr Yallop to resign. The police were not informed. Mr Yallop left St Peter's in 1988.

The victim was referred to Mr Yallop for bereavement counselling in 1987. The court heard that she had made a formal complaint after seeing a newspaper article last year indicating that Mr Yallop was considering fostering children.

Bishop Lunn, who was Bishop of Sheffield from 1980 until his retirement in 1997, told the Yorkshire Post on Tuesday: "The tale told in court was utterly different to what I was told. . . I was told the man in question had an inappropriate relationship with a member of his congregation. I saw him, and told him that this was unacceptable, and advised him to leave the ministry, which he did. I was not made aware that it was a girl, and there was no sweeping under the carpet."

On Wednesday, the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, issued an "immediate and full apology to the victim". He agreed with the judge that the matter was "not handled well" by the Church in 1987, and said "I deeply regret any additional distress this has caused over many years."

The trial of Canon Gordon Rideout, aged 74, a retired priest from Eastbourne and a former Chaplain to the Forces, began at Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday. He is charged with 35 counts of indecent assault on 17 children, and two counts of attempted rape between 1962 and 1973. The offences are alleged to have taken place at two Barnardo's homes for children - at Ifield, near Crawley; and at Barkingside, Essex - and at the army base at Middle Wallop, Hampshire.

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