The former chairman of governors at a private boarding school has dismissed claims that he carried out sexual abuse on five separate children as “nuts”.
Brian Martin, who was once principal trustee at Queen Ethelburga’s school near York, is accused by prosecutors of going to “extreme lengths” to groom one particular boy, who was aged between 14 and 15 at the time.
A jury previously heard how the 68-year-old owned the land in Thorpe Underwood on which the school was based, giving him almost daily access to children.
The 68-year-old is on trial at Leeds Crown Court facing a string of sex abuse charges between 1982 and 2010.
‘Taken for a ride’
Giving evidence from the witness stand on Friday, Martin denied the allegations, repeatedly answering “no” when asked whether he had carried out the acts he is accused of.
Responding to a claim that he had masturbated one alleged victim in his car, Martin said: “No. That’s a load of nuts.”
He claimed that one particular complainant, a former pupil at Queen Ethelburga’s, had approached police with historic allegations against him just days after being refused a loan by the former trustee.
Discussing this, Martin claimed that he had given the person £5,000 through his charity after receiving a letter claiming they were “destitute” and living on the streets.
However, he told jurors that when the same person wrote again months later to ask for more money, he sensed he was being “taken for a ride”.
Martin, of Ferrensby, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, said the complainant had approached police days later in order to report supposed abuse.
‘Guilty until proven innocent’
Martin admitted that, having been warned by a friend that police were investigating him, he carried out internet searches on his alleged victims and the law surrounding historic sex offences.
He told jurors: “I just wanted to know what the police were thinking about.
“The impression that I got straight away was that, in cases like these, you should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, but are very much guilty until proven innocent.
“There has been nothing at all since then to change that perception, nothing at all.”
The defendant added that, following his arrest in October 2015, he learned quickly that the police officers interviewing him were “not my friends”.
Martin denies 10 counts of indecent assault, one count of taking indecent images, three of attempted buggery, one of buggery, three of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, three of sexual activity with a child, and three of sexual assault.
The trial continues on Monday.