Man denies sex assault charges

Preston Crown Court

Preston Crown Court

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A man accused of sexually abusing two schoolgirls two decades ago said he was shocked to receive a letter from one of his alleged victims making claims he had assaulted her.

James Peach, 57, told the jury at Preston Crown Court he “utterly denies” the allegations made against him.

Peach, of Town Lane, Charnock Richard, said he was undergoing treatment for mental health problems at Whittingham Hospital in Preston around the time the second youngster claims he abused her.

He told the court he felt sorry for her when he realised her own mother was suffering with mental health difficulties and was unable to look after her.

The woman - who can not be identified for legal reasons - says Peach abused her on several occasions at a flat in Ribbleton during the 1990s.

Several years later she wrote to Peach but the defendant told the jury: “It wasn’t true. I got a shock.

“I have a carer and a psychotherapist. I showed them and they said I could go to the police if I wanted to but I couldn’t cope with the stress. I never forgot about it.”

A second woman alleges he sexually assaulted her in his car when she went on a shopping trip with Peach and her mother.

Peach said he recalled the incident and said the girl had sat on his knee and pretended to drive the car but said he was shocked when he said he had touched her private parts.

He said; “I was shocked and I said ‘I’m sorry I didn’t mean to.”

He added he made a point of clearing it up when the girl’s mum returned to the car as if he thought it was important she could tell if she ever needed to.

But he insisted he had never deliberately touched her in an inappropriate way or in the manner she alleged.

The jury is expected to retire on Tuesday to consider the seven counts of sexual assault, which Peach denies.

(Proceeding)