Monday, 10 August 2009

Jersey carer 'was sexual bully'

Jersey carer 'was sexual bully'

Gordon Wateridge arriving at a previous hearing
Gordon Wateridge denies the charges

A carer at a former children's home in Jersey was a "persistent sexual bully" who repeatedly abused children in his care, a court has heard.

Gordon Wateridge, 78, used his job at the Haut de la Garenne home to touch teenage girls in a sexual manner, Jersey's Royal Court was told.

He is charged with 19 counts of indecent assault relating to five victims between 1970 and 1974.

Mr Wateridge, who lives in the parish of St Clement, denies the charges.

He is also charged with one count of assault against a 12 or 13-year-old boy and one count of incitement to indecent assault against a 12 or 13-year-old girl.

The court was told he would grope girls' breasts, kiss them on the neck and, in one instance, forced his hand inside an alleged victim's underwear.

The alleged attacks led to children at the home nicknaming Mr Wateridge "The Perv", the jury was told.

'Bear hugs'

Opening the case for the prosecution, Stephen Baker said Mr Wateridge had worked as a house parent at the children's home from 1970 to 1974.

He said: "It is the prosecution case that Mr Wateridge abused that position of responsibility in respect of the children in his care named in the indictment. He was a bully and he used his position of authority to touch girls in his care in a sexual fashion.

"As you hear the evidence, you may conclude that he was a persistent sexual bully, frequently touching young teenage girls in a sexual manner."

As he opened the case, Mr Baker advised the jury to ignore "lurid" reporting in the press about Haut de la Garenne.

He made out that everything was a joke but he really was not very nice to anyone
Alleged victim

Mr Baker said Mr Wateridge would use his strength to overpower the girls by giving them inappropriate "bear hugs".

On other occasions he would sit on a snooker table at the home, grab girls walking past and pull them towards him.

The court heard he would place his mouth on the girl's neck and then allegedly grope the victim.

One of the alleged victims told the court that she had been left feeling "dirty" after being groped by him.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is now 53 and revealed girls at the home referred to Wateridge as "Perv".

She said: "He made out that everything was a joke but he really was not very nice to anyone."

"He would do things like smacking your bottom, grabbing you and giving you bear-hugs. It was all very impersonal."

She added: "When he grabbed you from behind, he would more often than not touch your breasts in some way."

When asked how she felt at the time about it, she replied: "It made me feel dirty, to be honest."

The trial continues.

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