|Reverend Malcolm Jackson Cleared of Sex Charges against Girl
By Nigel Burton
September 11, 2010
A JURY has cleared a vicar who was accused of sexually abusing a schoolgirl and trying to rape her in a church hall office.
Last night, it emerged that the Reverend Malcolm Jackson’s suspension will be lifted by bosses and he could return to work soon.
A jury took just an hour to clear the married father-offour of serious sexual allegations after a week-long crown court trial.
Mr Jackson, 52, smiled and looked up as the foreman delivered not guilty verdicts at Teesside Crown Court yesterday afternoon.
He looked close to tears and later began to weep when he left the dock to embrace his daughter, who had been in the public gallery.
The clergyman had denied charges of rape, attempted rape, sexual activity with a child and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
During the trial, he branded the claims “absolute lies” and told the court he had no idea why the teenager made the allegations.
In an interview with police, he said: “I’m amazed at the number of allegations she has made against me, to be honest.”
Giving evidence, he told his barrister, Adrian Dent: “I have been under a lot of stress for the past few years. My health isn’t too good.”
The jury heard personal testimonials from members of the clergy and youth group leaders who described him as “an inspiration”.
In the references, read to the court by Mr Dent, Mr Jackson was also hailed as “well-liked and respected” and “trusted and professional”.
The former shipyard worker was the curate of St Nicholas Church, in Guisborough, east Cleveland, at the time of the allegations.
He was appointed to be vicar of the nearby Kirkleatham parish in 2008, and lives next to St Hilda’s Church, in Mersey Road, Redcar.
After the verdicts, the vicar declined to comment, but it was revealed that his suspension will be lifted by the Diocese of York.
Communications officer Eleanor Course said: “We are glad that the Reverend Malcolm Jackson has been acquitted of all charges.
“The Archbishop of York will lift the suspension... (and) has recommended that Malcolm takes a few weeks’ break.
“We are praying for everyone who was involved in the case.”
His accuser, who cannot be identified, told the court the vicar tried to rape her in the church hall office, but she fought him off.
The teenager also accused him of further abuse, including a rape allegation and inappropriate behaviour, over a period of months.
The news that Mr Jackson had been acquitted was greeted with relief by people living around the church he served before his suspension.
Margaret Beveridge, who lives in flats near the Redcar church, said: “It must have been a horrendous ordeal for the man. Hopefully, he will be able to get over it.”
Father-of-three Paul Henderson, who was at the shopping precinct opposite the church, said: “Obviously he hasn’t done anything wrong, but I’m sure some people will still think he has.
“I’m sure his family will help to support him.”
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