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Former priest Gordon Rideout has been found guilty of 36 out of the 37 child sex abuse charges he was on trial for – including two of attempted rape.
But for the children he was abusing no one believed them.  They were just kids.  He was a well-respected adult in a position of authority.
Rideout was the assistant curate at St. Mary’s Church in Southgate, Crawley from September 1962 to September 1965 and during that time, he would regularly visit a Barnardo’s children’s home, Ifield Hall, which has since been demolished

A number of his victims attempted to speak out about what Rideout was doing, but tragically at the time of the offences, a child’s word was not believed.

"If you tell anyone, you will get into trouble"
 That's what my abuser used to say to me...
Those who were brave enough to say anything were subjected to brutal beatings.
"No one will ever believe you" was another favorite of his...
Some of his victims told police in interviews that it simply ‘wasn’t worth complaining’ because of the punishment they would receive in return.

Immeasurable Suffering

In a statement released by the Bishop of Chichester he commended the victims/survivors for their bravery in speaking out, but noted their "immeasurable suffering" as well.
“Gordon Rideout has been the cause of immeasurable and destructive suffering over a long period of time; he has also betrayed the trust and respect of many who have valued his ministry. Today’s verdict will have repercussions in many different ways across Sussex and beyond.

We must do better in protecting/believing our children

"A child's word was not to be believed" - interesting that they use the past tense here.  These offences occurred in the mid 1960s - but have we really come that far?  Would you believe a child over a trusted adult today?  

“...we are left with the question of why it has taken so long for these grave accusations to be taken seriously and brought to trial. What lessons do we all have to learn from this terrible catalogue of abuse about the strength and effectiveness of our communication within and between agencies that have responsibility for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults?

If you know or suspect a child is being abused

If you know or suspect that a child is being abused, you should always take it seriously. A good rule of thumb is to assume a “false positive”- in other words, assume that abuse is occurring if you have suspicions, and respond accordingly.

What to Say

•If a child even hints in a vague way that sexual abuse has occurred, encourage him or her to talk freely. Don’t make judgmental comments.
•Show that you understand and take seriously what the child is saying. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have found that children who are listened to and understood do much better than those who are not. The response to the disclosure of sexual abuse is critical to the child’s ability to resolve and heal the trauma of sexual abuse.
•Assure the child that they did the right thing in telling. A child who is close to the abuser may feel guilty about revealing the secret. The child may feel frightened if the abuser has threatened to harm the child or other family members as punishment for telling the secret.
•Tell the child that he or she is not to blame for the sexual abuse. Most children in attempting to make sense out of the abuse will believe that somehow they caused it or may even view it as a form of punishment for imagined or real wrongdoings.
•Finally, offer the child protection, and promise that you will promptly take steps to see that the abuse stops.

What to Do

•Report any suspicion of child abuse. If the abuse is within the family, report it to the local Child Protection Agency. If the abuse is outside of the family, report it to the police or district attorney’s office. Individuals reporting in good faith are immune from prosecution. The agency receiving the report will conduct an evaluation and will take action to protect the child.
•Parents should consult with their pediatrician or family physician, who may refer them to a physician who specializes in evaluating and treating sexual abuse. The examining doctor will evaluate the child’s condition and treat any physical problem related to the abuse, gather evidence to help protect the child, and reassure the child that he or she is all right.
•Children who have been sexually abused should have an evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional to find out how the sexual abuse has affected them, and to determine whether ongoing professional help is necessary for the child to deal with the trauma of the abuse. The child and adolescent psychiatrist can also provide support to other family members who may be upset by the abuse.
•While most allegations of sexual abuse made by children are true, some false accusations may arise in custody disputes and in other situations. Occasionally, the court will ask a child and adolescent psychiatrist to help determine whether the child is telling the truth, or whether it will hurt the child to speak in court about the abuse.
•When a child is asked to testify, special considerations–such as videotaping, frequent breaks, exclusion of spectators, and the option not to look at the accused–make the experience much less stressful.
•Adults, because of their maturity and knowledge, are always the ones to blame when they abuse children. The abused children should never be blamed.
•When a child tells someone about sexual abuse, a supportive, caring response is the first step in getting help for the child and reestablishing their trust in adults.

Making a Report

Reporting Child Abuse can be difficult. The abuser may be someone you know-a friend, a neighbor, or even a member of your own family. Many people who know or suspect that someone close to them is sexually abusing a child may have a hard time believing it- the person may not seem capable of such a horrible act.

It is important to remember that most child abusers seem perfectly normal. They come from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Most sexual abusers are married and have children of their own. In fact, the majority of sexual abuse actually takes place within the family.

You may also be afraid of making an allegation against someone that turns out to be false. It is important to know that false allegations of sexual abuse are very easily disproven. While there was a wave of very high-profile false allegations in the 1980′s, investigative techniques have improved considerably over the past few decades, and the rate of wrongful convictions for sexual abuse is among the lowest of any crime. If you are afraid of getting into trouble for filing a false report, rest assured that as long as you make a report in good faith, you will not face any kind of legal trouble.

Bottom line-you should always err on the side of protecting the child.

Originally posted to TreeClimbers on Mon May 20, 2013 at 12:45 PM PDT.

Also republished by House of LIGHTS.

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