A RETIRED archdeacon in the north-east of England is to face trial in the New Year, charged with a series of historic sexual offences.
At a preliminary hearing at Durham Crown Court, on Thursday of last week, a former Archdeacon of Auckland, the Ven. George Granville Gibson, who is 79, pleaded not guilty to eight counts, based on claims made by two men who were teenagers at the time of the alleged offences in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
He was arrested in April 2014, and, after Durham Police had made further investigations, was charged last May. He is accused of indecently assaulting a male in his late teens on at least four occasions in 1977 and 1978, and of three offences of indecent assault and one of buggery involving a boy aged under 16 between late 1979 and 1983. The offences are said to have taken place in Newton Aycliffe and Consett.
At the time, he was working as a priest in parishes in Co. Durham. Besides serving as Archdeacon of Auckland between 1993 and 2001, he was more recently an acting pastor at St James the Great, Darlington, after its priest and part of the congregation joined the Roman Catholic Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
His trial is set for 22 February, and is expected to last at least three days. Judge Christopher Prince bailed the Archdeacon until the start of the trial.