A FORMER high-ranking member of the Church of England has denied three charges of sexual assault on two different alleged victims.

George Granville Gibson, the former Archdeacon of Auckland, is accused of attacking one teenage man in the vicarage at St Clare’s Church in Newton Aycliffe in the late 1970s.

Teesside Crown Court heard the 83-year-old rubbed his hands up the teenage boy’s inner thigh as he was standing on a toilet seat while carrying out work for the defendant.

A second alleged attack took place in the study of the vicarage when the clergyman pulled out the teen’s shirt before putting his hand down the complainant’s underwear.

The court heard how the complainant was given £5,000 by the church authorities to "keep my mouth shut and to go away".

The first complainant said: “He was rubbing his hand up the inside of my leg into the groin area. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was trying to stop me falling off the seat.

“I told him to get off and I went back to get my coat.

"I was just going to get my coat and he was behind me and he put me in a bear hug and he lifted my shirt up and scratched my belly from one side to the other.

“He held my shirt up and put his hands down my pants. I told him to back off, I grabbed his hand with both of mine and pulled him off me. I left the house and went to report it and that’s when left my job.

“When I came out of work, I went straight to the police station to report it – I heard nothing else from the police.”

When asked by Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, how it made him feel, the complainant replied: “Awful, nothing like that had happened like that before.”

Under cross examination, defence barrister Robert Mochrie, asked the claimant whether his solicitor had contacted the church authorities to claim compensation and that was the motive for making the allegations.

The claimant replied: “No, money was never the object of it.”

He said the church has given him the money "to keep my mouth shut".

When Mr Mochrie put it to the witness that the alleged attacks never he happened and he was making it up take make "easy" money.

He replied: “No, it definitely happened.”

Jurors were told that the third charge related to an alleged attack on a young clergyman during a General Synod meeting in the late 1980s.

The jury heard that Gibson, of Wesley Court, Darlington, had been convicted of similar offences in 2016.

The defendant was jailed for 12 months after being convicted of two counts of historic indecent assault involving an 18-year-old and a man in his 20s during the late 1970s and early 1980’s.

But the jury found him not guilty of historic allegations involving a third person and were unable to reach a decision on a further charge.

The trial continues.