Choirmaster Peter Richards
A long-serving Maidstone church choirmaster has been suspended after being charged with harassment.
Peter Richards, who has been organist and master of the choristers at All Saints' Church for more than 20 years, is accused of persecuting a woman.
The 64-year-old is due to appear in court in March to answer the allegation.
He denies the charge, which is not directly connected to his Mill Street church work.
The former director of music at Highsted Grammar School in Sittingbourne, where he served 27 years until 2008, made a sudden departure from his Maidstone role earlier this year.
His absence was unexplained officially until Sunday when the vicar of All Saints, Canon Christopher Morgan-Jones, made an announcement to parishioners in the morning service.
He revealed the Square Hill Road resident had been temporarily removed from the post due to a police investigation.
Peter Richards conducts the choir of All Saints’ Church in Maidstone
A Canterbury Diocese spokesman said in a statement: "When Canon Christopher Morgan-Jones became aware of the allegations made against Peter Richards, he suspended him from his duties.
"The parish has a robust safeguarding policy in place and is committed to the safety of all members of the community.
"Diocesan officials and the vicar have actively assisted the police and Crown Prosecution Service with the investigation. When the court case is completed, the suspension will be reviewed."
All Saints’ Church, in Mill Street, Maidstone
In his absence, Richards' position has been temporarily filled by deputy Lionel Marchant.
His wife Sally, who served as mistress of the wardrobe for the male-only choir, has also been absent from the congregation since the allegations were made.
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