Retired priest charged with 29 sex offences

A RETIRED church priest living in Eastbourne has been charged with 29 sexual offences against boys.

Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, was charged on August 16.

The charges allege that he committed 13 assaults on a boy then aged between 15 and 16 in Chichester between 1982 and 1984.

He is also accused of eight offences of indecent assault on another boy then aged between 10 and 13 at locations in Broadbridge Heath in West Sussex, Devon, Cornwall and the Isle of Wight between 1978 and 1981.

A further eight more offences of indecent assault on another boy then aged between 10 and 13 at locations in Broadbridge Heath in West Sussex, Somerset and Devon between 1978 and 1982 have also been brought.

He had been arrested on March 6, had been on conditional police bail since then and was charged following further police interviews after he answered his bail.

He was released on conditional police bail and is due to appear at an initial hearing at Chichester Magistrates Court at 9.15am on September 5.

A police spokesperson said, “None of the charges relate to any allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise that there is nothing to suggest that any children are currently at risk.”

A helpline exists for anyone who feels they need support or advice whenever learning of such cases.

The helpline is manned by staff at the NSPCC and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Calls are handled sensitively and confidentially. Where appropriate, callers are referred to specially trained police officers and, if required, a range of local counselling services.

The helpline number is 0800 389 5344.