December 2, 2020 2.19 pm This story is over 9 months old

Ex-Lincoln Cathedral chancellor denies historic sexual assault

23 years after the alleged incident

A woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted by a former Lincoln Cathedral priest in the 1990s has said the incident made her “lose her faith” for 18 years.

Former chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral, Reverend Canon Dr Paul Overend, 54, is accused to have sexually assaulted the girl during a party at chaplaincy house in 1997, while he was a chaplain at Cardiff University.

Overend followed the victim into the chaplaincy kitchen before allegedly assaulting her, according to BBC News and Wales Online.

He has denied one charge of indecent assault during a trial at Newport Crown Court in Wales.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave evidence from behind a screen in court to protect her identity, and went into details about her account of the incident.

The jury heard that around 20 to 30 people were at the party drinking, and she bumped into Overend in the kitchen.

She told the court: “He appeared seconds later, the next thing I knew he was there stood in front of me. He just took hold of me.”

He is also accused of kissing the woman across her chest and arms, before pressing against her so that she could feel his penis against her.

Overend supposedly whispered in the victim’s ear: “Come upstairs, come upstairs with me my darling.”

The court heard that this made her “freeze solid” as she said that she couldn’t move, and he made her feel “uncomfortable”.

The victim told the court that Overend only stopped when someone entered the kitchen, which prompted her to leave the party and go home.

After the incident, she is said to have not returned to the chaplaincy and “lost her faith” for almost two decades, only reporting this incident in 2019 after hearing a news report about a similar offence.

A friend she told encouraged the alleged victim to report it to the church in Lincoln, where he was working, before giving a statement to police.

He was around 30-years-old at the time, and the court heard that Overend had dated three or four students from the University of Cardiff, as well as a staff member who he later married.

Overend became chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral in November 2017, but took sudden leave in April 2019 after a safeguarding investigation.

He told officers in a voluntary interview in Lincoln that he had no recollection of the party and that the incident doesn’t make sense to him.

He said: “It would be so out of character, I don’t relate to people like that.”

The trial continues at Newport Crown Court.

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