Handcross priest accused of sexually abusing 14-year-old boy

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A Church of England priest has been accused of using his position of authority to sexually abuse a 14-year-old schoolboy in 1970, a court heard on Monday (October 12).

Vickery House, 69, of Brighton Road, Handcross, allegedly groped the teenager after offering him a role as server.

The married curate from Seattle in the US had previously impressed the boy with his knowledge of poetry, art and music, jurors were told.

It is also claimed that House abused five other men between 1976 and 1986 while working as a vicar in Devon and Sussex.

He was initially arrested and interviewed in relation to two of the adult victims in 2012 and denied making any sexual advances, saying he was ‘flabbergasted’ by the allegations.

House now accepts sexual contact did take place relating to four of the adult victims but denies they were indecent assaults, the court heard.

Prosecutor Jacob Hallam told jurors the case was about sexual desires, betrayal of trust and betrayal of responsibility.

‘The defendant was first a curate and then a vicar within the Church of England and he was a married man,’ said Mr Hallam.

‘The victims were in positions that were subservient to him when he committed the offences.’

Mr Hallam added: ‘Mr House used his position of authority to make sexual advances which were unwanted but when he was rebuffed he would stop.

‘It is opportunistic sexual offending towards people in subservient positions within the church.’

The court heard the first alleged victim met House when he was a 14 year-old schoolboy.

House ‘made him feel special’, the court heard.

Mr Hallam said: ‘He was a charismatic figure, born in Seattle, he knew about poetry and music and art.

‘He brought a dynamism to the church that impressed many people and had an appreciation of the theatre of the church service.’

The court heard that in 1970, House indecently assaulted the boy during a massage as he lay in bed.

House allegedly struck again when the boy was 15 but the victim escaped after they were interrupted by the doorbell ringing.

House allegedly groped the second victim in Devon between 1976 and 1978 and in Berwick, East Sussex between 1980 and 1985.

He allegedly attacked the third victim in East Sussex between 1980 and 1985.

The fourth victim claims House groped him as he slept at a house in Hastings between 1984 and 1986.

House allegedly told him he couldn’t stop himself and ‘the only way he would stop was if [the victim] went and locked himself in another room’, said Mr Hallam.

He then groped the fifth victim after inviting him to stay at a house in south London, it is claimed.

The sixth victim claims he was attacked by House during a walk on the Downs in East Sussex between 1985 and 1986.

House denies eight counts of indecent assault.

The trial continues.

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