Eastbourne priest questioned over historic sex abuse

A Church of England priest has been arrested on suspicion of child sex abuse and cruelty against a boy dating back up to 25 years.

The 56-year-old man, who does not currently have permission to officiate, was detained this morning at his home in Jervis Avenue, Eastbourne.

Sussex Police said he was held on "suspicion of acts of indecency, indecent assault and cruelty against a boy known to him" who was then aged 12 and 13 in 1988 and 1989.

His arrests follows a review and inquiry by a team of detectives after information was referred to the force by the Diocese of Chichester in 2011, following a report commissioned by the diocese by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.

A police spokesman said: "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."

Earlier this year, two other Anglican priests referred to in the report were convicted and jailed for separate historic sex attacks on children.

Canon Gordon Rideout, 74, was imprisoned for 10 years after he abused more than a dozen girls and boys at a now closed Barnardo's home in Crawley, over a four-year period.

The former Anglican clergyman also indecently assaulted two girls at an Army site in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, Lewes Crown Court heard.

A second priest, Robert Coles, 71, was jailed for eight years in February for unrelated sex offences against young boys. Police have said the man arrested today has no link with the offences for which they were convicted.

Detective Inspector Jon Gross, of Sussex Police, 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."


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