Former Eastbourne priest Gordon Rideout is behind bars after being jailed for ten years for the “systematic” sexual abuse of vulnerable children.
The 74-year-old, of Filching Close, Polegate, was found guilty of two attempted rapes and 34 charges of indecent assaults on young boys and girls in care homes over a 10-year period.
Judge Guy Anthony described the evidence against Rideout, a former chair of governors at Bishop bell School and ex-chair of trustees at St Wilfrid’s, as “clear and compelling” and said it was a “gross breach of trust”.
He said, “On the balance it seems quite clear to me the regime in the care home was harsh by today’s standards. Children were routinely not believed and particularly if the allegation was made against a clergyman and no doubt you were well aware of this and took full advantage of this.
“You groomed many of the children where any attention would have seemed something to cherish, but it is plain to me your sole aim was to abuse them sexually for your own gratification.
“Using your position in authority you took full advantage of the system and acted toward them in a way which affected them a great amount over the next 40 years of their lives and maybe until they die.”
The jury took 16 hours to find Rideout guilty of his crimes which date back to his time as curate and chaplain visiting troubled children at care homes.
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 the care home 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.”