Cathedral Canon faces sex charges

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A Lancaster Cathedral priest has appeared in court in preparation to stand trial next month.

Canon Stephen Shield denies three counts of indecently assaulting a male in the 1990s.

Shield, 53, who was dean at the Roman Catholic cathedral in St Peter’s Road, Lancaster, appeared at Preston Crown Court for a pre-trial review.

Shield was arrested by police on March 23 and charged with three offences of indecent assault relating to one male.

The offences are said to have been committed more than two decades ago when the alleged victim was aged between 17 and 24.

Shield was granted bail with conditions he does not contact directly or indirectly the alleged victim or have any unsupervised contact with any person under the age of 18.

The trial will start on November 11.

Following his arrest a Lancaster diocese spokesman said: “In accordance with established safeguarding policies and procedures of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Canon Stephen Shield has temporarily withdrawn from public ministry .

“Such temporary withdrawal from public ministry does not constitute Canon Shield’s removal from office as parish priest, nor does it in any way imply guilt on his part.”

The diocese says it works closely with the police and statutory authorities to report and investigate instances of sexual abuse, screening clergy, employees and volunteers, and implementing effective training programmes.

Anyone with personal safeguarding concerns contact Deacon Chris Barwise at dpolancaster@btconnect.com or on 01772 728433..