A RETIRED priest has been jailed for ten years for abusing children as young as five, including two at the Middle Wallop army base.
Gordon Rideout, 74, from East Sussex, was found guilty of two attempted rapes and 34 indecent assaults on 16 boys and girls by a jury at Lewes Crown Court. He was jailed for ten years on Monday.
The attacks took place between 1962 and 1973, and four charges of indecent assault were related to two girls at the Middle Wallop army base, where he was a padre at St Michael’s Church.
In 1972 he was accused of three indecent assaults at the base, but was cleared by a military hearing.
The majority of the offences took place when Rideout was the assistant curate at St Mary’s Church in Southgate, Crawley from 1962 to 1965 and he would regularly visit a Barnardo’s children’s home, Ifield Hall.
Nigel Pilkington, head of the CPS South East Complex Casework Unit, said: “Gordon Rideout was in a position of trust, which he systematically abused, indecently assaulting vulnerable youngsters that he met over a number of years.
“A number of his victims attempted to speak out about what Rideout was doing, but tragically at the time of the offences, a child’s word was not believed.
“Those who were brave enough to say anything were subjected to brutal beatings. Some of his victims told police in interviews that it simply ‘wasn’t worth complaining’ because of the punishment they would receive in return.
“Instead the victims hid what happened to them for many years and none of us can begin to imagine the impact that has had on their lives. I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and the fortitude of the victims in coming forward to give evidence.
“They may not have been believed as children, but today they finally have been. I hope that helps to give them closure.”
He also thanked Barnardo’s for the role it played in helping bring the case to trial.