TRIAL LATEST: Eastbourne man tells court he was groped by priest when he was a teenager

Court news.
Court news.

A man who claims he was sexually abused by a Church of England priest while a teenager received a letter from a senior clergyman assuring him ‘it would never happen again’, a court heard.

Vickery House, 69, is said to have crept into the bedroom where the youngster was sleeping in a house in East Sussex before fondling him.

The Old Bailey heard when he was told to get off, House said, “I can’t stop. If you don’t want me to do this you will have to lock yourself in the room next door.”

The ‘confused’ teenager locked himself in the second bedroom until the next morning when he was taken back to Eastbourne by the married vicar, jurors heard.

The alleged victim later told a trusted friend about the incident, which he believes happened in 1983, but did not contact the police or Church.

Cross examining him in court prosecutor Jake Hallam said, “In the spring of 1984 you received a letter from a senior clergyman essentially touching on what you had told [your friend] saying that the matter had been looked into.”

The witness, who cannot be named, explained, “Saying it had been dealt with so it would not happen again.”

Describing the alleged attack, the man said he ‘begrudgingly’ agreed to stay with House, who showed him to a bedroom before leaving him to sleep.

But as he slept on the double bed wearing only his underpants he felt a hand on his privates, the alleged victim said.

“It took me a moment to wake up and realise it was happening. Then I was shocked and confused and then I told him to stop it,’ he told jurors.

“It was Vickery House’s hand,” he continued, as he nodded towards the bespectacled defendant who stared back from the dock.

“After I had asked him a few times he said, ‘I can’t stop. If you don’t want me to do this you will have to lock yourself in the room next door’.”

He added, “I was very confused because he made the point of telling me he was married, had a child or children.

“I knew he was a vicar. I was very confused as to why it was happening.’

The alleged victim was not interviewed by police until 2012 after other allegations emerged about the American-born clergyman.

One man claimed he was groped by House as a 14-year-old schoolboy after he was offered a role as server in the Devon parish of Crediton, in 1970.

He eventually went to police in 2001 but nothing was done ‘for reasons that remain unclear’, the court has heard.

House is also accused of abusing four other men between 1976 and 1986 while working as a vicar in Devon and Sussex.

House, of Brighton Road, Handcross, West Sussex, denies eight counts of indecent assault against six alleged victims.

The trial continues.

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