Diocese of Chester

Diocese 'sorry' for not acting on information about abusive priest

Fri 08 Mar 2019
By Alex Williams

A Church of England diocese has issued an "unreserved apology" to a man sexually assaulted by a priest during childhood.

The Diocese of Chester also accepted it failed to act on information concerning now-retired clergyman Charles Gordon Dickenson which surfaced ten years ago.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual assault against a child during the 1970s. He was the vicar of Christ Church Latchford near Warrington at the time.

 

Chester Crown Court heard how a boy was targeted on four occasions during the course of a several months at both the church hall and vicarage.

In a statement, church leaders said: "We offer an unreserved apology to the survivor.

"He has shown bravery and courage to share his experiences with the police and we acknowledge how difficult and distressing this must have been for him."

 

Cheshire Police found a complaint lodged in 2009 against Dickenson was not acted upon by the Church of England.

A letter - sent as part of safeguarding protocol - acknowledged an accusation that Dickenson had indecently assaulted a young boy.

It also said that the then-Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Victor Whitsey, made Dickenson "promise never to do it again".

Creative Commons

 

The diocese continued in its apology: "Information brought to light to the church in 2009, if acted upon then, may have led to the police bringing a prosecution against Gordon Dickenson much sooner.

"The Diocese apologises for not acting on this information in 2009."

Dickenson was appointed a bishop's chaplain. He retired in 1994 but was still allowed to officiate services until five years ago.

 

The diocese also said it will review the handling of the case to pinpoint any failures in procedures and any lessons which can be learned.

Charles Gordon Dickenson will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court later this month.

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