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  1. ITV Report

Former archdeacon jailed again for indecent assault

Granville Gibson, a former Archdeacon, deliberately touched a teenager in a sexual manner 40 years ago Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A former senior clergyman has been sentenced to 10 months in prison after being found guilty of two counts of indecently assaulting a young man in the 1970s.

Granville Gibson, who is now 83, was previously Archdeacon of Auckland, a deputy to the Bishop of Durham.

Gibson was found to have deliberately touched a teenager in a sexual manner when he was a vicar in Newton Aycliffe around 40 years ago.

It happened inside the vicarage where Gibson lived, next to St Clare’s Church.

Steve Ebdon, who was 17 or 18 when Gibson assaulted him, has waved his right to anonymity.

He told ITV Tyne Tees he was "dissapoiinted" by the 10 month sentence, calling Gibson "an animal."

In a statement, the Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said:

It is a matter of deep shame and regret that a former priest in the Church of England Granville Gibson has today been found guilty and received a custodial sentence of 10 months for two further counts of indecent assault against a male person. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place; abuse is a terrible crime and a grievous breach of trust, which has lifelong effects.

We apologise unreservedly to survivors of Granville Gibson’s abuse and pay tribute to their bravery in coming forward. We have worked closely with the police throughout this process and we continue to urge anyone affected by this news to contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Team or their local Police force.

– The Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
Gibson indecently assaulted the young man inside the vicarage next to St Clare's Church

Due to the nature of the offences and the amount of time that has elapsed since they took place, this has been a lengthy investigation lasting a number of years.

The victim has been incredibly brave in coming forward to police and speaking about their ordeal both during our investigation, and at court during the trial this week.

We have also worked hard to ensure they are listened to and supported throughout the investigation and subsequent court process.

We disappointed with the jury’s decision regarding the third count, but respect the verdict.

We would urge anyone who believes they have been a victim of abuse of this nature to come forward and speak to us.

It does not matter when the abuse happened, or who your abuser was – what is important is that you get the help and support you need and that any perpetrators are investigated and brought to justice.

– Durham Constabulary

During the trial at Teesside Crown Court, the prosecution said that Gibson had been a “revered” figure within the Church of England, who had “abused his position of trust.”

Gibson said he had held a sexual interest in men “from time to time”, but denied touching the young man, saying it would have been “disgusting” behaviour.

The jury found him not guilty of a third count of indecent assault, on a different young man.

He was previously jailed for 12 months in 2016, after being convicted of two counts of indecent assault against young men.

Steve Ebdon, Gibson's latest victim, said that he had told the police about the assault on the day that it happened, but Gibson was never prosecuted.

He came forward again after seeing reports of the 2016 trial.

Last year, the man was paid £5,000 compensation by church insurers.

In a statement released today, the Diocese of Durham said:

During the trial, one of the witnesses confirmed that he had received payment from the Church of England. We can confirm that a civil claim was received by the insurers and this was settled on a full and final basis. We can also confirm that no confidentiality agreement was undertaken as part of the settlement

– Spokesperson for the Diocese of Durham