A RETIRED priest, Canon Gordon Rideout, was sentenced to ten
years' imprisonment on Monday for 36 sex offences against children.
He was the cause of "immeasurable and destructive suffering over a
long period of time", the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner,
Canon Rideout, from East Sussex, had denied 34 indecent assaults
and two attempted rapes committed between 1962 and 1973 (News, 4 May,
2012). Most were perpetrated at Ilfield Hall children's home in
Crawley. The charges related to 16 different children. He was
acquitted of one charge of indecently assaulting a five-year-old
The day after his sentencing, the House of Bishops issued a
fresh statement on child protection, in which it talked of a
"step-change" in its approach.
"The House committed itself to creating a climate of
transparency and trust with profound listening to survivors of past
clerical and ecclesiastical abuse."
It went on: "There remains a duty on all clergy to report to
relevant authorities and the police any allegation of abuse from a
child or vulnerable adult."
The Bishops intend to undertake an audit of safeguarding
provision in every diocese, review risk-assessment procedures, and
develop national training materials. In addition, the statement
said, "proposals for legislative change . . . will be brought to
the Archbishops' Council".
Canon Rideout was Assistant Curate of St Mary's, Southgate,
Crawley, from 1962 to 1965, during which time he regularly visited
Ilfield Hall, a Barnardo's children's home that no longer exists.
From 1967 to 1973, he was a Chaplain to the Forces at Middle
Wallop. Lewes Crown Court found him guilty of four charges of
indecent assault on two girls at the base.
In 1972, he was accused of three indecent assaults at Middle
Wallop, but was cleared by a military hearing. He was also the
subject of a police investigation in 2001.
Canon Rideout was Chaplain of Moira House School, Eastbourne,
until 2003; and chairman of governors at St Mary's special school
in Bexhill until 2009, and at Bishop Bell C of E School in
Eastbourne until November 2011. He was made a Canon and Prebendary
of Chichester Cathedral in 1990. He retired in 2003, but remained
Rural Dean of Eastbourne until 2006.
On Monday, Matt Dunkley, director of children's services at East
Sussex County Council, told the BBC of "a significant amount of
arrogance on behalf of some members of the Church of England -
almost that these things couldn't be true about someone of standing
in the Church".
Dr Warner told the BBC that, in this case, there had not been a
cover-up: "The advice that came back from the [earlier] police
investigation did not give grounds for suspending Gordon Rideout at
He said, however, that "Gordon Rideout has been the cause of
immeasurable and destructive suffering over a long period of time;
he has also betrayed the trust and respect of many who have valued
Dr Warner praised the efforts of the diocesan safeguarding
adviser, but said: "We are left with the question why it has taken
so long for these grave accusations to be taken seriously and
brought to trial."
The Rt Revd Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes from 1997 until his
retirement last year, said: "I very much regret that Gordon Rideout
was not convicted of his crimes until now."
Nigel Pilkington, head of the Crown Prosecution Service
South-East Complex Casework Unit, related how Canon Rideout "was
able to wander through Ilfield Hall and the gardens, even visiting
children when they were sick and alone in bed. One victim recalled
how the children would hide under their covers when he came into
"Those who were brave enough to say anything were subjected to
brutal beatings. Some of his victims told police in interviews that
it simply 'wasn't worth complaining' because of the punishment they
would receive in return.
"None of us can begin to imagine the impact that has had on
their lives. I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and the
fortitude of the victims in coming forward to give evidence. Those
who heard the evidence they gave at court will have realised how
difficult this has been for them. They may not have been believed
as children, but today they finally have been. I hope that helps to
give them closure."
Mr Pilkingon thanked Barnardo's for helping to bring the case to
In a letter to the Church Times this week, a priest
describes being sexually assaulted by the curate of a parish to
which he had been sent on placement during his training.
The ordinand reported the assault, and, as a result, the curate
was transferred to another parish. The ordinand and his colleagues
were told that the transfer was because of an incident that had
arisen "due to a misunderstanding". The ordinand discovered that he
was not the only member of the group to have been assaulted.
He reports that no investigation took place and no pastoral care
was ever offered: "Despite a pattern of abusive and predatory
sexual behaviour with a series of young men that he held a position
of power over, the priest was simply moved on to another parish
with no one knowing the truth." The priest is still in parish
"I fear this pattern - of failing to listen, of silencing the
victims, moving the 'problem' and failing in both pastoral care of
victims and accountability in clerical behaviour - has been
repeated all too often."
The letter was sent in response to news of the allegations
against a former Dean of Manchester, the Very Revd Robert
News, 17 May). On Thursday of last week, fresh allegations
about Dean Waddington were published in The Times. A
victim, identified only as P, told the newspaper that he met the
Dean in 1993 and was subjected to "frequent indecent assaults" over
a period of years. These are the first allegations about the Dean's
behaviour after his retirement in 1993.
On Wednesday, the diocese of Carlisle issued a statement
expressing its shock at the actions of the Revd Andrew Folks and
the Revd Ronald Johns, both jailed for sexual abuse.
Dean Waddington also served in Carlisle, as a residentiary canon
from 1972 to 1977. The diocese states that the allegations against
him "relate to events in the 1960s and early 1980s. They do not
relate to his time in the diocese of Carlisle."