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Former Oxted Priest Now Facing 24 Indecent Assault Charges As Trial Date Set

Surrey Mirror
December 16, 2016

http://www.surreymirror.co.uk/former-oxted-rector-guy-bennett-now-facing-24-indecent-assault-charges-as-trial-date-set/story-29989376-detail/story.html

Guy Bennett, formerly of St Mary's Church in Oxted, is facing 25 charges

Two more people have come forward with sex abuse allegations against a retired priest who is already facing a string of indecent assault charges, Guildford Crown Court was told on Friday (December 16).

It brings the number of complainants prepared to testify against the former Rector of Oxted, Guy Bennett, from 10 to 12, it was revealed.

Bennett, 83, of Lewes Road, East Grinstead, appeared to face a new indictment containing a total of 25 counts 24 of indecent assault against complainants who were under the age of 16 at the time, and one of outraging public decency.

When the defendant appeared at Redhill Magistrates' Court earlier this year, he faced 22 charges of indecent assault and one of outraging public decency between 1977 and 1998.

Eloise Marshall, prosecuting, said the allegations made by the two new complainants stemmed from incidents said to have happened in the late 1980s.

Bennett, who was Rector of Oxted from 1972 to 1998, entered no pleas at today's hearing. He was remanded on bail until March 17, 2017 for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Paul Walker, defending, said a medical report would be presented to the crown court on his client's fitness to plead.

"He is physically fit," he said. But Mr Walker said it was vital to carry out tests on his client's memory.

"It's important to have this medical report," he said.

Judge Jonathan Black asked: "Is he saying this number of complainants are wrong?"

Mr Walker said there might be a mixture of "misunderstandings, confusions and fabrication".

The court was told that a date for a trial, lasting nearly three weeks, has been set aside for September 11, 2017.

Granting Bennett bail, Judge Black ordered that he must have no contact with prosecution witnesses or be in the company of anyone under the age of 18 in the meantime.

The defendant was chaplain to the London Palladium from 1972 to 1998 which earned him the title "chaplain to the stars".

He has written a book about the celebrities he has known. He was also a friend of Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed who lived in the Oxted area while Bennett was rector there.

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