BREAKING NEWS: Former vicar Rideout found guilty of child sex abuse

Former priest Gordon Rideout has been found guilty of 36 out of the 37 child sex abuse charges he was on trial for – including two of attempted rape.

The jury returned to Lewes Crown Court this lunchtime (Monday, May 20) after spending three days considering their verdicts. He was found guilty of abusing boys and girls as young as five between 1962 and 1973.

Rideout was the assistant curate at St. Mary’s Church in Southgate, Crawley from September 1962 to September 1965 and during that time, he would regularly visit a Barnardo’s children’s home, Ifield Hall, which has since been demolished.

The majority of the offences took place there, although he was also convicted of four charges of indecent assault on two girls at the Middle Wallop army base.

Nigel Pilkington, Head of the CPS South East Complex Casework Unit, said, “As an assistant curate and then chaplain, Gordon Rideout was in a position of trust, which he systemically abused, indecently assaulting the vulnerable youngsters that he met over a number of years. He was able to wander through Ifield 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 their dormitories.

“A number of his victims attempted to speak out about what Rideout was doing, but tragically at the time of the offences, a child’s word was not believed. 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.

“Instead the victims hid what happened to them for many years and 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.

“I would like to thank Barnardo’s for the role they played in helping to bring this case to trial.”

Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS South East, Roger Coe-Salazar, said: “This case is an example of how the CPS successfully prosecutes cases of child sexual abuse and should serve as a warning to those who think they can abuse children with impunity. We are exceptionally mindful of how difficult it can be for victims to step forward and place their trust in the authorities many years later, but I hope this case illustrates the support and understanding they will receive from the prosecutors and the police when they do.”

Rideout, 74, of Filching Close, Polegate, will be sentenced later today.