March 2019

89-year-old pervert vicar who ‘succumbed to temptation’ is jailed

An elderly vicar who sexually abused a young boy more than 40 years ago has been put behind bars for 27 months.

Charles Gordon Dickenson, now 89, repeatedly abused the child and shockingly the Church of England twice covered up his crimes – and even promoted him.

He assaulted his victim in his vicarage, church hall and even the sacristy where he kept his religious robes.

Jailing him today a judge pointed out that “the long arm of the law” had finally caught up with him.

Dickenson, known as Gordon, preyed on the boy, who attended Christ Church in Latchford, Cheshire, and forced him to keep their “dirty secret” for four decades.

A court heard the Church of England was twice alerted to his behaviour but failed to act on the information.

Dickenson was even promoted to a more senior position within the church at another parish when a female organist reported seeing him hugging the boy.

He was finally caught when officers interviewed the victim in 2017 while investigating sexual abuse allegations against the former Bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey.

Judge Steven Everett, sitting at Liverpool Crown Court, today told Dickenson, who was using a wheeled walker: “You did a terrible thing. You were the priest at a parish church in Cheshire.

“You were in your early 40s and at that time the child was not even a teenager. For your perverted desires you took advantage of that little boy.

“I have little doubt that when you did it you thought you could do whatever you wanted and nobody would stop you because nobody would believe this if he ever said anything.”

Referring to the first incident in the boiler room of the church hall, Judge Everett said that “it beggars belief that someone who was calling himself a man of God should do these terrible things….emboldened by that act you astonishingly sexually assaulted him in the vicarage at Latchford where you were the priest.”

The next incident took place in the sacristy after he deliberately sought him out and abused him there.

Judge Everett said: “The fact is you were a man of God and this took place in a church.”

The judge said that he had taken vows to “teach the gospel and be a role model to your flock. You were not a role model at all.”

He said that the offences took place on four separate occasions and the victim impact statement showed the “huge” effect the abuse had had on the victim. He told the victim, who was present in court, that he had no reason to be ashamed as it was Dickenson who should be ashamed.

He pointed out that in a pre-sentence report on Dickenson he had not detected much remorse and it was a “matter of huge regret” that he had not been stopped and brought to justice earlier but he had instead moved and promoted.

Judge Everett ordered Dickenson to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.

March 2019

Elderly vicar found guilty of child sex abuse after Church of England cover-up

A retired vicar is facing prison after he admitted to sexually abusing a young boy, as it emerged that the Church of England twice covered up his crimes and promoted him.  

Charles Gordon Dickenson, 89, admitted to eight counts of sexual assault against his victim in the 1970s. He assaulted his victim in the church hall, vicarage and invited him to his home when his wife was away. 

The victim, who attended Christ Church in Latchford, Cheshire had felt unable to speak about the abuse for over four decades.

Chester Crown Court heard the Church of England were twice alerted to Dickenson’s behaviour but failed to act on the information.

He was eventually caught when officers interviewed the victim in 2017 while investigating sexual abuse allegations of former Bishop of Chester Victor Whitsey.

He told police it was the first time he had spoken about the abuse after “burying it away”, calling it a “dirty secret”. 

Dickenson, of Crewe, ordered his victim not to tell anyone about the abuse, the jury was told. 

“The first incident occurred on a Saturday evening when the church would host dances in the hall, Dickenson told the victim there was a problem with the boiler and lured him into the basement,” Prosecutor Myles Wilson said. “Dickenson, aged 45 at the time, sexually assaulted the boy and afterwards told him he ‘hoped he enjoyed it but not to tell anyone about it’.

“A few weeks later, while the church was preparing for Warrington Walking Day, the boy visited the vicarage to drop off decorations. As he went to leave, Dickenson took him into a side room and locked the door.”

The victim told police he was “full of dread” and was sexually assaulted again.

The assault only stopped when Dickenson’s wife shouted out his name.

Dickenson then told the boy: “I miss seeing you around, I hope you are not avoiding me.”

The third incident took place in the private sacristy after Dickenson lured the boy into the back entrance of the church, telling him others were inside.

He locked the back door and the doors to the sacristy behind him before abusing the boy.

On another occasion, he approached the boy outside the toilets before assaulting him. 

After the final incident, Dickenson told the victim his wife was going away and that he wanted the boy to visit him at the vicarage.

The court heard he was moved to another parish and given a promotion after a female organist told her parents she had seen him “embrace” the boy.

When confronted by the church warden, Dickenson admitted: “I interfered and succumbed to temptation.”

He was appointed as a bishop’s chaplain and worked for another 20 years until retiring in 1994 although he was still allowed to officiate services until 2014.

A letter uncovered by police from Dickenson to the church, sent in 2009 as part of a vetting procedure, acknowledged the accusation of indecently assaulting a young boy.

It stated that Bishop Whitsey made him “promise never to do it again”.

When interviewed last June, Dickenson told police he “couldn’t remember interfering with the boy but could remembering being accused of it”.

However, when the archdeacon visited him last year to offer pastoral care, Dickenson admitted his crimes.

In a personal statement, the victim said: “These crimes made me question myself. Why was it me? Was I a homosexual? The shame made me not tell anyone, the first time I spoke about it was in December 2017 to the police. The shame came out in alcohol abuse and the way I treated girls, until I met my wife.”

Judge Steven Everett said: “He was regarded as a man of God and was wholly trusted. He was put in a position where he could get away with what he wanted – he certainly has never said sorry to the victim.”

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