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Priest, aged 58, cleared of teenage indecency charges

18 October 2021

Alamy

The Crown Court building in Stoke-on-Trent

The Crown Court building in Stoke-on-Trent

A JURY has cleared a priest accused of child sex offences committed when she was 13.

The Revd Veronica Green, aged 58, Priest-in-Charge of Marbury with Tushingham and Whitewell, in Cheshire, had denied six offences said to have been committed when she was a 13-year-old babysitter. After a week-long trial at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, a jury returned not-guilty verdicts on Wednesday of five counts of indecency with a child and one of indecent assault.

Mrs Green broke down in tears as the verdicts were delivered. Outside court, she declined to comment, saying only: “As a family, we just want to get on with our lives.”

She was suspended from her duties by Chester diocese in January 2020 after a woman complained to police. Shortly afterwards, a second woman came forward. Both alleged they had been abused by Mrs Green. The two were aged five and 11 at the time.

In a statement, the diocese’s safeguarding lead, the Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Julie Conalty, said: “Following Mrs Green’s acquittal, a formal church process now needs to take place to assess the situation within the context of its national safeguarding and disciplinary procedures. Mrs Green will remain suspended during this time. Please continue to pray for everyone affected by this situation.”

Ben Lawrence, prosecuting, told the jury: “The defendant has gone on to become a very different person. She has gone on to lead a blameless life as an adult. She is of positive good character and has no doubt done good for others. But you are judging the acts of when she was a teenager, and the way she behaved then.”

Giving evidence, Mrs Green said: “I never presumed what had happened was bad until I became an adult. The things that I admitted to were never done with any intention to hurt or harm the girls. They were things that happened very naturally when I look back to the process of my changing. Neither of the girls or myself thought much had gone wrong. That’s how it felt like to me until my latter years. I never regarded what we did as anything too serious.”

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