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Girl 'frozen to the spot' as vicar touched her leg, court hears

Woman tells trial of retired vicar Brian Spence she was touched during her confirmation class as a young girl

The trial is taking place at Reading Crown Court

A woman has described in court how as a schoolgirl she was frozen to the spot when she felt a vicar’s hand on her leg.

A jury at Reading Crown Court was told on Monday the incident took place during her confirmation class at St John the Baptist Church in Crowthorne when she was 11 or 12.

Retired vicar Brian Spence, 74, of Nursery Close in Hook, denies nine counts of indecent assault involving four girls aged under 16.

All the offences are alleged to have taken place between 1995 and November 1999 when he was vicar of the Crowthorne church.

He was more recently priest-in-charge at St Mark’s Church in Englefield before he retired.

During a police interview played to the jury, the woman said the incident happened when her confirmation class was seated around a table with Spence.

Some way through the class she said Spence put his hand on her left knee.

She said: “It didn’t travel, it just stayed still but felt like it was there quite a while. I remember freezing to the spot because I felt it was inappropriate.”

Cross-examining the woman, Alexia Durran, defending, said: "Mr Spence has no recollection of ever putting his hand on your knee in confirmation class.

“He thinks it is possible that if you had appeared to have lost concentration he might have put a hand on your knee to get your attention so you were back in class listening to what he was saying.”

The woman said that was not possible.

She added: “He wouldn’t have to get my attention by putting his hand on my knee.”

Last week, the mother of a woman who claims to have been abused by Spence when she was 11 told the jury how her daughter’s behaviour changed suddenly after the incidents were alleged to have happened.

The mother said her child acted like a teenager going through puberty and she could not understand why, until her daughter told her about the alleged assaults many years later.

The first victim to give evidence told the court Spence had hugged her, put his hand down her shorts and touched her indecently on a day when she was part of the church choir singing at a series of weddings in Crowthorne.

She said she did not tell her parents about what had happened until September 2012 and then the police were called in.

Her mother told the court: "She became very emotional. She would burst into tears over something that was nothing.

“She would run upstairs and slam the door, crying, She was a 12-year-old behaving like she was a much older teenager.”

The trial continues.

 

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