Priest arrested over historic sex offences is bailed

A priest arrested in Eastbourne this morning (Tuesday) on suspicion of sexual offences against a young boy has been interviewed and released on police bail this afternoon while enquiries continue.

The 56-year old man had been arrested this morning at his home address in Eastbourne, on suspicion of acts of indecency, indecent assault, and cruelty, against a boy then aged between 12 and 13, in East Sussex during 1988 and 1989.

The man is a Church of England priest who does not currently have permission to officiate.

He was bailed until April 3 next year.

There are currently no allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise that there is nothing to suggest that any young people are currently at risk.

The arrest results from a review and subsequent investigation, by a team of Sussex Police detectives, after information was referred to the force by the Diocese of Chichester in 2011 following a report commissioned by the Diocese from Dame Elizabeth Butler Sloss.

Detective Inspector Jon Gross said, “The Diocese of Chichester are co-operating fully with us. Although the matters referred to are still subject of police investigation, we always take seriously any allegations of historic sexual offending, and every possible step is taken to investigate whenever possible.

“Allegations of historic offences are treated just as seriously as any more recent offences. Police advice and assistance can be obtained by calling Sussex Police on 101 and quoting Operation Perry.”

A special helpline is also available for anyone who feels they need support or advice whenever learning of this or any similar cases. The helpline is manned by staff at the NSPCC and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls will be handled sensitively and confidentially. Where appropriate, callers will be referred to specially trained police officers and, if required, a range of local counselling services, who are ready to offer expert support to those who come forward. The helpline number is 0800 389 5344.