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Gordon Trevor Rideout, 74, of Filching Close, Wannock, Polegate, East Sussex was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court today, Monday 20 May, after a six-week trial, of a series of sexual offences against young boys and girls.
His Honour Judge Anthony sentenced him to a total of ten years imprisonment.
Rideout will also be required to register as a sex offender for life on his release from prison.
Rideout was found guilty of 36 sexual offences against 16 young girls and boys.
34 of the offences were of indecent assault on the 17 girls and boys aged variously between five years old and their mid-teens. 30 of those offences were committed at a now closed Barnardo's childrens' home, Ifield Hall, in Crawley, West Sussex, between 1965 and 1967, and four took place at an army site in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, against two girls under 13, between 1970 and 1972.
The other two offences were of the attempted rape of one of the girls at Ifield Hall between 1962 and 1966.
Rideout was found not guilty of indecently assaulting a teenage boy at a Barnardo's childrens' home in Barkingside, Essex, between 1965 and 1967.
Rideout had been arrested on 6 March last year following a six month enquiry by Sussex Police detectives, and was charged in August 2012 on the authority of the South East Complex Case Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service, with whom police worked very closely in this investigation and prosecution.
Detective Chief Inspector Jon Gross of Sussex Police said; "This has been a wide reaching investigation, the success of which has been founded upon very strong inter-agency cooperation and the courage of the many victims and witnesses who have provided testimony in this case. It is difficult to overestimate the significance of this verdict for those who have finally seen justice, many decades after being prey to the sexual abuse perpetrated by Gordon Rideout.
"His offending over that period has been hugely impactive upon the lives of his victims, from childhood to the present day. It is hoped this case will bring a sense of closure to all of those who provided evidence to the investigation while underlining to the wider community that it is never too late to report serious crimes, however long ago the alleged offending took place.
"In carrying out this investigation we also received full co-operation from the Diocese of Chichester and Barnardo's Homes."
This police investigation into Rideout followed receipt of a confidential report to the Diocese of Chichester by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss in May 2011, a copy of which was voluntarily supplied to police by the Diocese. That report raised concerns about Rideout's conduct in the 1960s and early 1970s, and provided detectives with new lines of enquiry. That report was separate to the public report by Dame Elizabeth, which was also published in May 2011.
Another priest referred to in that confidential report, Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne, appeared at Brighton Crown Court on Thursday 14 February this year, and was sentenced to a total of eight years for sexual offences against young boys. His offending was not linked to that of Rideout.
None of the charges against Rideout or Coles related to any allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise that there is nothing to suggest that any children are currently at risk.
A special helpline is also available for anyone who feels they need support or advice whenever learning of such cases. The helpline is manned by staff at the NSPCC and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls are handled sensitively and confidentially. Where appropriate, callers are referred to specially trained police officers and, if required, a range of local counselling services, who can offer expert support to those who come forward. The helpline number is 0800 389 5344