Priest Wilkie Denford Questioned over Allegations of Sexual Abuse

Huffington Post
January 25, 2012

A Church of England priest has been arrested by police investigating historic allegations of sexual abuse on young boys in the late 1980s.

Semi-retired Father Wilkie Denford, 76, was held with an unnamed 68-year-old man who worked as an organist in the Lewes area of East Sussex, sources confirmed.

Both were arrested by Sussex Police child protection detectives on November 3 on suspicion of sexually abusing two young boys at locations in West Sussex in 1988.

The pair, whose arrests have only just emerged, have since been released on police bail until March 1.

Police confirmed that one of the suspects was a 76-year-old Church of England vicar who they have not named.

The spokesman said: "Sussex Police child protection detectives in West Sussex on Thursday November 3 arrested two men on suspicion of sexual abuse of two young boys at various locations in West Sussex during 1988.

"Of the men, a 76-year-old from West Sussex was released on police bail later the same day after being interviewed, until November 22 whilst inquiries continue, and the other man, a 68-year-old from East Sussex, was also released later the same day after being interviewed, until January 5, 2012 while inquiries continue.

"Their bail was later extended to March 1. The 76-year-old is a Church of England vicar. The 68-year old is not and has not been a church minister."

Fr Denford was suspended from his church duties once the allegations surfaced.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Chichester said: "We can confirm that a retired priest and another man, who has worked as an organist in the Lewes area, were arrested in November 2011 and are currently on bail.

"The Diocese of Chichester is working in full co-operation with the police and other public authorities.

"We cannot comment further whilst this investigation is under way. All necessary safeguarding procedures are in place."

Last December, Lambeth Palace announced that the Archbishop of Canterbury was setting up an inquiry into child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester.

Child protection arrangements will be scrutinised and recommendations will be made.

Dr Rowan Williams has appointed Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC to conduct the inquiry. A preliminary report will be presented to Dr Williams by the end of next month.


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