Guilty verdict in Durham archdeacon’s abuse trial

The former Archdeacon of Auckland has been convicted of indecently assaulting two men whilst serving as vicar of St Clares Church in Newton Aycliffe, Co. Durham. On 4 Aug 2016 a jury sitting at the Durham Crown Court found the Ven. George Granville Gibson guilty of two accounts of indecently assaulting two men in the 1970s and 1980s. He was found not guilty of five further charges of sexual assault including abusing an inmate in confinement at the Medomsley Detention Centre.

In testimony before the court one victim accused the former Bishop of Durham John Habgood (pictured), later Archbishop of York, of sweeping abuse complaints “under the carpet”. However no evidence was presented to the court documenting a cover up. The current Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. Paul Butler apologized to the victims and promised a full investigation in the church’s handling of the affair.

In his statement Bishop Butler wrote:

Following the conviction today of the Venerable Granville Gibson on two charges of indecent assault, we offer an unreserved apology to all the survivors and those affected by this  news. We commend the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward, acknowledging how difficult and distressing this would have been.

We are profoundly sorry for the abuse perpetrated by Mr Gibson and remain committed to doing everything possible to ensure the wellbeing of children, young people and adults, who look to us for respect and care. Abuse is a terrible crime and a grievous breach of trust, which has lifelong effects.

I am asking the Chair of the Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group to commission a full and independent review of all the circumstances surrounding this case so that we can learn from what has happened. We expect that review to take place and report over the next few months.

Our prayers are with everyone concerned and should anyone be affected by today’s news or want to share concerns please contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Contact Line …

Judge Christopher Prince suspended sentencing pending guidance from the Court of Appeal. The prisoner was released on bail until sentencing.

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