Sunday, 31 July 2016

Former Archdeacon of Auckland Granville Gibson tells trial he wrapped legs around alleged abuse victim

A FORMER minister admitted for the first time today that he had wrapped his legs around an 18-year-old who was performing community service work at the church.

Cross-examined on the fifth day of his trial at Durham Crown Court, where he denies six counts of indecent assault and one other serious offence, retired clergyman Granville Gibson, said there was nothing sexual in the contact.

The 80-year old former Archdeacon of Auckland, who now lives in Darlington, is said to have committed the offences earlier in his Church career when he was a minister at St Clare’s at Newton Aycliffe in the late 1970s and early 80s.

Two alleged victims were teenage males while a third was a young churchman in his mid-20s at the time.

Mr Gibson told the court that because of the difficult situation of offenders who were doing community service at the church he would bring some “light-hearted banter” into the situation by making jokes and “acting on” and have a “throw about a bit” at times.

He said: “It was common garden acting on really, as I did from time to time as I did with my own kids.”

Prosecutor Paul Cleasby said: “But these were young offenders. Did you think it was appropriate to be touching them?”

Mr Gibson replied: “I did what I thought was appropriate at the time.”

He had earlier said that he had no recollection of the 18-year-old, who complained of being abused by him.

Mr Cleasby reminded him the victim had alleged that the abuse started when Mr Gibson sat on the edge of desk and wrapped his legs around him and pulled him toward him in a sexually aroused state.

He replied: “I do remember the desk. I do remember sitting on it and from time to time as he passed me he would stretch out with his hand and I would do the same - and yes occasionally I would put my legs around his lower legs and we would have a tussle.”

When Mr Cleasby said that this was the first time in the whole proceedings that he had made the confession, Mr Gibson said: “It’s the first time I’ve been asked.”

The married father-of-four is accused of committing one of the offences during a surprise unsupervised visit see the teenager, shortly after he was admitted to the former Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett.

Another victim who attended the church said he was regularly abused by Mr Gibson, at the time believing he was being comforted by the “touchy feely” churchman.

Mr Gibson said he accepted cuddling the boy, by “bending down and giving him a hug”.

Asked how long the hug was, he said: “Not very long, but I didn’t have a stopwatch with me.”

The trial continues.