Retired priest’s sex abuse trial begins

Canon Gordon Rideout
Canon Gordon Rideout

The trial of retired Eastbourne priest Canon Gordon Rideout began at Lewes Crown Court yesterday (Monday).

The 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.

Thirty-six of the alleged offences are of indecent assault on 16 girls and boys aged between five years old and their mid-teens, 31 of those are alleged to have been committed at a now closed Barnardos children’s home, Ifield Hall in West Sussex and one at a Barnardos children’s home in Essex between 1961 and 1967; and four are alleged to have taken place at an army site in Hampshire against two girls under 13 between 1971 and 1973.

The other two alleged offences are of attempted unlawful sexual intercourse with one of the girls at Ifield Hall between 1962 and 1966.

The charges, authorised by the South East Complex Case Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service, follow an enquiry by Sussex Police detectives into allegations of sex abuse of young people in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Rideout was charged in June last year following a nine-month inquiry by Sussex Police detectives into allegations of child sex abuse in the 1960s and early 1970s.

His trial is expected to last up to eight weeks.

Rideout is a former chair of governors at Bishop Bell School in Eastbourne and was also chair of the trustees at St Wilfrid’s Hospice for a number of years.