A PRIEST accused of sexually assaulting members of his congregation has appeared in court.

The Reverend Christopher Brain, now 66 and living on Park Road in Wilmslow, faces multiple allegations of non-recent sexual offences.

Brain led an evangelical movement, called the Nine O’Clock Service, in the 1980s and 1990s.

The movement ran between 1986 and 1995, initially held at St Thomas’s Church in Crookes before moving to Ponds Forge sports complex in Sheffield city centre.

It is alleged that between 1981 and 1995 he sexually assaulted 11 women who had joined the movement.

He appeared at Sheffield Magistrates Court on Monday (March 18) where, in a hearing lasting just four minutes, he was faced with a total of 34 charges.

Knutsford Guardian: Reverend Christopher Brain leaving Sheffield Magistrates Court on Monday (March 18)Reverend Christopher Brain leaving Sheffield Magistrates Court on Monday (March 18) (Image: PA)

Brain stood in the glass-fronted dock for the short hearing wearing a grey suit and black open-necked shirt.

He spoke to give his name, date of birth and address.

District Judge Marcus Waite granted him unconditional bail and told him to appear again at Sheffield Crown Court on April 15.

Only the rape charge was read out in full in court on Monday.

The judge explained to Brain that this allegation was so serious it needed to be dealt with by a crown court judge and that the other 33 counts would also be transferred.

The 33 indecent assault charges include some which cover multiple different alleged incidents, including a number involving allegations of assault during massages.

Brain left the court building with his solicitor, wearing a surgical mask.

Speaking previously, Chief Superintendent Lindsey Butterfield, District Commander for Sheffield, said: “These charges follow a complex and wide-ranging investigation into events dating back 30 or more years.

“The police investigation was launched in 2020, when a number of victims came forward to report the allegations to us. Since this time, an investigation team has been working hard to build up a full picture of what is reported to have happened.

“We understand this is a concerning case and one which will have an impact upon individuals and communities. We will continue to provide appropriate support and updates to those involved.”