A MAN who says he was sexually abused when aged just nine by a vicar has said he was told it was "a part of God's work".
Canon Gordon Rideout, 74, is standing trial at Lewes Crown Court after pleading not guilty to 37 sexual offences against young boys and girls, some as young as five, in the 1960s and 1970s.
A total of 32 of the charges relate to Rideout's time as an assistant curate at St Mary's Church in Southgate, when he would visit a Barnados children's home in Ifield.
Last Friday a man, who was in care at a home in Barkingside, Essex, during the 1960s said Rideout had put his hand down his shorts.
The alleged victim said: "I remember it was a hot day in June, when I was nine, and I wanted a drink of water after playing outside.
"I called at his door and he brought me out a glass of water.
"He said 'do you feel better now? and when I said 'yes' he pulled me towards him and put his left hand down the front of my shorts and onto my private parts.
"I pulled away from him and I was frightened because I had no one to talk to and no one to tell."
The alleged victim said he recalled wearing only shorts and plimsolls when he called at the vicar's door.
He added: "His hand stayed there for what seemed a long time but it was probably a few minutes.
"I remember asking him what he was doing and he said 'this is a part of God's work'. I still don't understand what he meant by that.
"I didn't tell anybody. I was just a nine-year-old boy and I didn't think I would be believed because the home had a strict regime."
Rideout is accused of abusing more than a dozen girls and boys at the Ifield children's home over a four-year period.
He is also accused of indecently assaulting a child at a home in Essex, and two girls in Hampshire.
The retired Church of England priest denies 35 counts of indecent assault on 17 children and two counts of attempted rape, between January 1962 and January 1973.
The trial continues.