Sheffield man goes on trial accused of multiple child sex offences
A Sheffield man has gone on trial, accused of numerous of child sex offences, including rape.
Mark Searles, 58, of Queen Street, Chapeltown denies one count of rape; three counts of assault by penetration and five counts of sexual assault on a child under the age of 13, and has gone on trial at Sheffield Crown Court today.
The offences are alleged to have been carried out against one victim, Child A, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Prosecutor, Louise Reevell, told the jury of eight men and four women that the alleged abuse was reported to the police after Child A confided in a school teacher in January last year.
The matter was subsequently passed to a safeguarding officer at the school, and Child A was then interviewed by the police in March 2018.
The jury were shown a video recording of the interview, in which Child A said they asked Searles ‘what are you doing’ on at least two occasions when he sexually touched them.
Child A said: “He said it was because my belly was making a weird noise, and because I was 11 I thought that was pretty reasonable.”
The court was told that Child A did not immediately confide in anyone about the alleged abuse.
“I didn’t tell anyone, because it wasn’t easy to say,” the child said.
They added: “I didn’t think anyone would believe me.”
Searles was interviewed by police in April 2018.
Ms Reevell told the jury: “Effectively, he denies all of these sexual allegations, and effectively he says they didn’t happen; and that’s going to be the issue for you to decide in this case.”
Child A is set to give evidence tomorrow.
Searles has entered not guilty pleas to all nine charges he faces.
The trial, which is scheduled to last one week, continues.