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Nine O’Clock Service founder Chris Brain faces criminal charges

02 February 2024

BBC Everyman

Chris Brain in the BBC Everyman documentary “Breach of Faith”, broadcast on 26 November 1995

Chris Brain in the BBC Everyman documentary “Breach of Faith”, broadcast on 26 November 1995

CHRIS BRAIN, founder of the Nine O’Clock Service (NOS) in Sheffield, has been summonsed to court to be charged with multiple counts of non-recent sexual offences.

South Yorkshire Police said in a statement on Thursday that Mr Brain, aged 66, of Park Road, Wilmslow, in Cheshire, “is facing one count of rape and 33 counts of indecent assault, alleged to have been committed between 1981 and 1995. He has been summonsed to attend Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on 18 March.”

The NOS was a rave-culture style Evangelical initiative that attracted scores of young worshippers in Sheffield during the 1980s and ’90s. It collapsed in the ’90s amid claims of sexual and mental abuse. The NOS was initially held in St Thomas’s, Crookes, Sheffield, before moving to Ponds Forge in the city centre.

The District Commander for Sheffield, Chief Superintendent Lindsey Butterfield, said: “These charges follow a complex and wide-ranging investigation into events dating back 30 or more years.

“The police investigation was launched in 2020, when a number of victims came forward to report the allegations to us. Since this time, an investigation team has been working hard to build up a full picture of what is reported to have happened.

“We understand this is a concerning case and one which will have an impact upon individuals and communities. We will continue to provide appropriate support and updates to those involved.”

South Yorkshire Police is appealing for any other potential victims or witnesses who have not yet spoken to the police to come forward. The statement says: “You can pass information to us via our online live chat, our online portal or by calling 101. Please quote investigation number 14/174466/19 when you get in touch. You can access our online portal here: www.southyorks.police.uk/contact-us/report-something/.”

South Yorkshire Police reported in 2022 that it had arrested a man and a woman on suspicion of sexual offences, alleged to have taken place in Sheffield between 1980 and 1995 (News, 2 September 2022).

Its statement on Thursday says: “A woman previously arrested in connection to the case remains under investigation.”

The diocese of Sheffield said in a statement that it had been working with the police and the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team throughout the investigation. “We cannot comment further on the specifics of the charges while the legal process takes place.”

The Bishop of Doncaster, the Rt Revd Sophie Jelley, said: “We understand just how much courage it takes for victims and survivors to come forward, and we commend their bravery. We are committed to working with them in the way they need, both to enable their support and the support of those who have not yet felt able to come forward.

“We would strongly encourage any who are affected by today’s news to contact us here at the diocese of Sheffield, or to go directly to the police. Abuse of any kind is a source of great sorrow, and especially in relation to the Church. In the diocese of Sheffield, we are working hard to try and ensure churches are safe and welcoming for all people. This is a responsibility we take extremely seriously.”

The diocese has a dedicated web page for anyone who is affected by the news, and it says that its safeguarding team is available to offer support and advice.

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