Sunday school teacher denies sex assaults on child

Sunday school teacher denies sex assaults on child

John Laister leaving Bradford Crown Court.

John Laister leaving Bradford Crown Court.

First published in News Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by

A SUNDAY school teacher subjected a young churchgoer to repeated sexual assaults as he read stories to a room of children, a Bradford jury was told.

Bradford Crown Court was told that John William Laister, now 72, held the story book in one hand while using the other to assault the girl during the sessions, which followed Sunday sermons at Thorpe Edge evangelical church.

He is also accused of conducting similar assaults on the same victim when she visited his family home and of indecency with a child resulting from activity in his car while driving her to or from his home.

Laister is facing eight sample charges, four of indecent assault and four of indecency with a child, as a result of his conduct between 1976 and 1978, with three rape charges relating to a different girl between 1970 and 1972.

The jury heard that by the time the Sunday school attendee was allegedly assaulted, Laister had already been subjected to a police inquiry over his behaviour while working as a ‘house parent’ at a school for children with learning difficulties, where he lived with his own family.

The alleged victim fell pregnant and had a termination, with Laister interviewed by police and although he was not prosecuted he left the school, in Leeds.

Laister was interviewed by the Metropolitan police in 1989 and admitted assaulting a girl at the now-closed Hilton Grange Children’s Home, in Bramhope, but denied raping her. He has already pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault regarding that case but the prosecution case is that he has minimised the extent of the abuse against her and was responsible for rape.

During his contact with the Metropolitan force he also admitted assaulting a girl at the Thorpe Edge Sunday school and the prosecution allege that was the same victim who came forwards in 2012 to report her allegations to police.

At that point, West Yorkshire Police became aware of what had been said during the 1989 interviews and were able to contact the former pupil, who gave a new video interview.

Prosecutor Nicholas Askins told jurors that Laister was a “controlling individual and this assisted him in offending” against the alleged rape victim. The rapes were said to have taken place in his bed at his family’s quarters in the school.

The Bradford allegations date from several years later in the 1970s when the girl involved was aged 11 or 12.

In a video interview played to jurors she told police she did not understand what was happening at Sunday school was wrong at the time.

When visiting Laister’s home, the journeys were always unaccompanied and followed the same pattern with him instigating sexual contact.

“I never remember a conversation telling me it was ok, not to worry, this is how it should be,” she said.

“I just remember his dirty hands where they should not be.”

The experience had continued to have an adverse effect on her personal life, she added.

The case continues.

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