Former Rector found guilty of historic abuse

06 November 2015

PA

At the Old Bailey: the Revd Vickery House during his 12-day trial

At the Old Bailey: the Revd Vickery House during his 12-day trial

ANOTHER priest in the diocese of Chichester has received a prison sentence after being found guilty of historic sexual abuse.

The priest, the Revd Vickery House, a former Rector of Berwick, in East Sussex, denied eight counts of indecent assault against six males aged 14 to 34, between 1970 and 1986.

After a 12-day trial, he was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault on four young men and cleared of a further three. On Thursday of last week, he was jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Mr House, who is 69, was Vicar of St Bartholomew’s, Brighton, before his retirement in 2010. He was found guilty of two offences against a boy then aged 14 and 15, between 1970 and 1971, when he was Assistant Curate of Crediton. His victim was a member of a church youth group in the parish.

The boy reported the incident to the police 31 years later. The other offences were committed against men in East Sussex between 1981 and 1985, when Mr House was Rector of Berwick.

Detective Inspector Jez Prior of Sussex Police said the investigation began after the force received information from the Church in 2012. “The case was about power that House, who was a priest when all these offences were committed, exercised while he was responsible for ministering to their spiritual needs, and it was about opportunism, as he took advantage of situations in which to sexually assault them,” he said.

Mr House had worked alongside Bishop Peter Ball, who was jailed for 32 months this month for a series of offences against teenage boys and young men (News, 9 October), helping to run Ball’s Give a Year for Christ scheme. Three men were victims of both men. If Ball had not pleaded guilty in September this year, the pair would have been tried together, Mr Prior said.

The diocese of Chichester issued a statement which said that it was “profoundly sorry” for the abuse perpetrated by Mr House, “and remain committed to doing everything possible to ensure the well-being of vulnerable people, young and old, who rightly look to us for . . . nurture in the Christian faith.”

Prison. A 91-year-old former priest in Manchester, Frank Baldwick, was jailed for three years, last week, after being found guilty of sexual assault against a young boy. The offences took place when Baldwick was Rector of Great Lever and Vicar of St Anne’s, Hindsford, in the 1970s. He continues to deny the offences.

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