Court hears from victim of alleged child sex abuse by Eastbourne vicar

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A man who says he was sexually abused by an Eastbourne vicar when he was just seven or eight has told a court he felt ‘terrible and disgusting’.

Gordon Rideout, a 74-year-old Church of England minister, has pleaded not guilty to 38 sexual offences against 18 young boys and girls, some as young as five.

Rideout lives in Filching Close, Polegate, and is currently on bail but standing trial at Lewes Crown Court.

Yesterday (Thursday, April 25), two men, both Barnados children in care during the 1960s, gave evidence at his trial and told the court Rideout had put his hands down their trousers.

The first witness said the vicar abused him when he was aged between seven and eight.

The man’s police interview, which took place last year, was shown to court on screens.

He said he had been sent to pick vegetables from the greenhouse and was approached by the vicar.

In the recorded police interview shown to the court on a DVD, the alleged victim told the police officer, “When I turned my back his arms were round me and that’s when it happened. His arms were all over me.”

The man explained the incident included sexual touching and said it lasted around ten minutes.

The man told police nothing was said during the incident but added, “He said ‘don’t tell no-one – that’s between me and you.

“He said, ‘if you do tell anyone it is your word against my word – they won’t believe you’.”

The man also spoke of a second incident in his police interview. He said the second incident was very similar, but lasted 20 minutes and happened in his bedroom.

The witness referred to the vicar as Stephen or Simon, but the prosecution says the vicar at the time was Rideout and he was the person who carried out the abuse.

The witness said he was scared to tell anyone about the two episodes and added, “I knew in my mind that he would hit me, or if I told someone I would have got more punished for speaking the truth.”

The witness also described the vicar as a ‘prowler’ and said on one occasion he had told him ‘I like little boys’.

The man, who sat behind a screen while the DVD of his police interview was played to the court, said he had never spoken about the two alleged offences before telling police .

He said, “It has been on my mind all the time but I haven’t told anyone.”

The second man said he was also indecently assaulted twice while in care and, unlike the first witness, named Rideout as the man who carried out the alleged offences.

Rideout denies the charges and the trial continues.