A FORMER priest has been charged with sex offences on the Isle of Wight dating back to the 1970s.
Robert Coles, 71, now of Upperton Road, Eastbourne, was yesterday (Thursday) charged with dozens of offences in the south of England.
They include eight offences of indecent assault on a boy aged between ten and 13 at locations in Broadbridge Heath in West Sussex, Devon, Cornwall and the Isle of Wight between 1978 and 1981.
Mr Coles, was arrested in March and was charged after police interview yesterday. He is due to appear at Chichester Magistrates' Court on September 5.
He faces a string of charges that also include 13 assaults on a boy then aged between 15 and 16 at a location in Chichester between 1982 and 1984.
A further eight offences of indecent assault on third boy then aged between 10 and 13 at locations in Broadbridge Heath in West Sussex, Somerset and Devon between 1978 and 1982.
A police spokesman said: "The charges, authorised by the South East Complex Case Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service, follow a nine month enquiry by Sussex Police detectives into these allegations.
"None of the charges relate to any allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise that there is nothing to suggest that any children are currently at risk."
A helpline has been set up for anyone who feels they need support or advice because of such cases.
The helpline is manned by staff at the NSPCC and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Calls are handled sensitively and confidentially. Where appropriate, callers are referred to specially trained police officers and, if required, a range of local counselling services, who can offer expert support to those who come forward. The helpline number is 0800 389 5344.