Judge to decide whether bishop is fit to stand trial on sex charges with fellow former Brighton priest

Posted On 03 May 2015 at 4:23 pm

A High Court judge will decide whether a bishop who began his career in Brighton is fit to stand trial charged with indecent assault.

The case of Peter Ball, 83, a former Bishop of Lewes, was discussed at the Central Criminal Court – better known as the Old Bailey – on Friday (1 May).

Mr Justice Sweeney – Sir Nigel Sweeney – said that the trial of Ball and his fellow former Brighton priest Vickery House had been allocated to Mr Justice Wilkie, a High Court judge.

It would be up to the trial judge – Sir Alan Wilkie – to decide whether Ball was fit to stand trial.

Bishop Peter Ball

Bishop Peter Ball

In January Mr Justice Sweeney, 63, who took part in the trial after the IRA bombing of the Grand hotel in Brighton in 1984, set the trial date for Monday 5 October. No venue was decided.

Ball and 69-year-old House are scheduled to face a jury on charges of child sex abuse with their trial expected to last about ten weeks.

Ball, of Aller, near Langport, in Somerset, was Bishop of Lewes from 1977 to 1992 during which time he is accused of indecently assaulting a 12 or 13-year-old boy.

He also faces charges of misconduct in public office and indecently assaulting a 19 or 20-year-old man.

The misconduct charge accuses Ball of misusing his position and authority to manipulate and prevail upon others for his own sexual gratification.

The charge of indecently assaulting a boy under 16 dates from 1984 or 1985. And the charge of sexually assaulting a man over 16 dates from 1990 or 1991 – a year or two before Ball became Bishop of Gloucester.

Ball, who retired shortly afterwards, began his career as a curate in Rottingdean in the 1950s.

His co-defendant House, 68, of Brighton Road, Handcross, is the former vicar of St Bartholomew’s Church in Brighton.

He faces eight charges of indecent assault and is accused of abusing a boy of 15 and five men ranging in age from 17 to 34 over a 16-year period.

House, who has also officiated at the Church of the Annunciation, in Washington Street, Hanover, was arrested by Sussex Police in November 2012.

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