An Anglican priest from Wannock who was jailed for sexually abusing young children has applied to be released from prison on compassionate grounds.
Canon Gordon Rideout, 74, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in May after being found guilty of 36 separate sex offences.
The priest, from Filching Close, committed the offences against 16 children between 1962 and 1973 in Hampshire and Sussex.
One of his victims said she and her family were in ‘a state of disbelief’.
She said she felt anguish at Rideout’s ‘obvious ploy to manipulate the system’ with his application.
Rideout was recently released from prison to attend hospital on a temporary licence.
He was returned to jail but has since applied to be released permanently. The reason for his stay in hospital is not known.
Another victim expressed his ‘utter disgust and disbelief’ at the news that Rideout had applied for release from prison.
“Did this man ever show any compassion for his young victims - did he ever show any compassion for all of us that had to stand up in court and had our very unhappy childhood laid bare?” he said.
Rideout carried out 34 indecent assaults and two attempted rapes, most of them at Ifield Hall children’s home in Crawley, when he was an assistant curate.
Ifield Hall has since been demolished.
Four of Rideout’s convictions were for indecent assaults on two girls at the Middle Wallop army base, Hampshire, where he was a padre at St Michael’s Church on the site.
The Ministry of Justice said it could not discuss individual applications for compassionate release, and medical details were confidential.
It said compassionate release was only granted in exceptional circumstances and if the public would not be at risk.
A spokeswoman said the request could be granted if the prisoner had a terminal illness and was likely to die soon or that the prisoner was bedridden or severely incapacitated.