Review of Chichester Diocese files leads to sexual offences arrests
AN 80-year-old man was arrested today (Tuesday, November 13) on suspicion of sexual offences committed against eight boys and young men.
The man was arrested at his home near Langport, Somerset.
The alleged offences, involving victims ranging in age from 12 to their early 20s, took place at addresses in East Sussex and elsewhere during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
A 67-year old man was also arrested at his home address near Haywards Heath today on suspicion of two separate sexual offences against two teenage boys in East Sussex between 1981 and 1983.
They are currently detained, in Somerset and Sussex respectively, for interview and further enquiries by Sussex Police officers.
The arrests resulted from a review and subsequent investigation over the past six months by a team of Sussex Police detectives.
The investigation follows receipt by Sussex Police in May this year of two reports from a Church of England safeguarding consultant.
The reports contained reviews of church files relating to the safeguarding of young people in the Chichester Diocese during the 1980s and early 1990s.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “The investigation, which relates to alleged offences not previously reported to Sussex Police, has taken six months so far.
“This is a very complex enquiry, in the course of which many people, all now adults, have had to be traced, together with other witnesses and records from a wide variety of sources, and there is continuing consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service.
“There are no allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise there is nothing to suggest any young people are currently at risk.
“Police also stress the allegations are being treated separately and do not involve the two men allegedly acting together”.
Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes, of Sussex Police, who is in charge of the investigation, said: “The Church of England, including the Diocese of Chichester, is co-operating fully with police.
“Although the matters referred to are still subject of police investigation, Sussex Police makes it clear the force will always take seriously any allegations of historic sexual offending and every possible step will be taken to investigate whenever appropriate.
“Allegations of historic offences are treated just as seriously as any more recent offences.”
Police advice and assistance can be obtained by calling 101 quoting Operation Dunhill.
A helpline, manned by staff at the NSPCC, is available for anyone who feels they need support or advice.
The helpline, number 0800 3895344, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls will be handled sensitively and confidentially.