The Canon Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral has been exonerated of charges that he had abused a young woman at a college party 20 years ago. A jury at the Newport Crown Court returned a non-guilty verdict on a charge of indecent assault lodged against the Rev. Dr. Paul Overend after a brief deliberation on 3 December 2020.
The court heard the claim that in 1997 Canon Overend attacked a girl at a Cardiff party for students at the university chaplaincy. The complainant alleged Canon Overend followed the student into the kitchen of the university chaplaincy and attempted to kiss her arms and shoulders, and propositioned her.
Canon Overend denied the claim, testifying from the witness stand he “did not” assault anyone and had “no recollection of [the claimant] at all” from his day’s as the college’s chaplain.
When the allegation was made, Canon Overend stepped aside from his positioun as canon chancellor of Lincoln cathedral and moved out of his rectory, but kept his position pending the outcome of the trial. His return to active service will be complete following a church review of the allegations and court proceedings.
A Church of England spokesman released a statement saying; “The Rev Canon Dr Paul Overend was acquitted today of a charge of indecent assault following a trial at the Newport Crown Court after due police process. The church acknowledges that any court process is difficult for all involved. The cathedral community and diocese both continue to offer support and prayer for all those involved.
‘With the criminal process concluded, time is now needed to consider any further response that is required by ecclesiastical law, and according to the House of Bishops’ guidelines and policies. There will not be any further statement while this process is carried out.”