Vicar faces sex abuse charges

A RETIRED vicar has been charged with conspiring to commit sexual abuse of young boys more than 20 years ago.

The Reverend Colin Pritchard, 63, who served at St Andrew's Church in Berrymoor Road, Wellingborough, is charged with conspiring to commit indecent assaults against the boys between 1980 and 1990.

The allegations only came to light when a father who claims he was abused by Pritchard spoke to another vicar about concerns over sending his own child to an Anglican school.

Pritchard, who has been suspended from officiating in any church, appeared at Northampton Crown Court yesterday but did not enter a plea

Matthew Maynard, prosecuting, said the allegation was made when a former member of the church confided with his vicar in Northampton.

Mr Maynard said: "With a young child due to start school, he spoke to his vicar about concerns over sending his child to an Anglican school.

"This complainant made disclosures about alleged abuse at the hands of this defendant.

"The rector encouraged him to contact the police and the rector took him to a police station."

As a result of the allegations, police wrote to other parishioners.

This led to a second man coming forward to make allegations about Roy Cotton, another Anglican rector, who died in 2006.

A third person also made allegations of indecent assault against both Pritchard and Cotton. The alleged victims cannot be named for legal reasons.

Pritchard, who now lives in St Augustine's Close, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, retired on health grounds.

He was released on conditional bail until a hearing in December.