Ex Preston boarding school 'house father', who is now a Baptist minister, denies indecent assaults on former pupil

A man has given evidence against a Baptist minister accused of abusing him.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 5:00 pm

Rev Terence Hepworth, 62, of Laurel Bank Close, Holmfield, Halifax, West Yorkshire, denies a string of historic alleged sexual attacks on a teenage schoolboy in the former Derby School in Fulwood, Preston, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Rev Hepworth, who was a ‘house father’ at the school at the time, is accused of seven indecent assault charges and is on trial at Preston Crown Court.

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The former Derby School

The former pupil also alleges another member of staff at the school abused him from the age of nine and that this continued after Mr Hepworth had left the establishment.

A video interview police conducted with the complainant, who cannot be identified, was played to jurors.

Describing one alleged incident, the man said: “ I was semi awake.”

He said the defendant had told him that if he told anyone, he could “make your life difficult.”

Describing one alleged incident he said: “ I just shut myself down.

Asked by the officer: “How did it make you feel?” he replied: “I was horrified, scared. I felt dirty for weeks after that.”

The man told the interviewing officer that he was “too scared” to confide in anyone about what had happened.

Asked by the officer if he told his parents he replied: “I was too ashamed.”

He said he finally told them when he left school, aged 16, but they did not believe him. They have since passed away.

The complainant was called to give evidence in person.

The defence barrister, referring to pictures of areas of the school, said her client denies occupying the room that the complainant said was his accommodation.

She told the court Mr Hepworth only started at the school in September 1980 - on a voluntary basis - and that this post dates the period the man alleges the offences took place.

The court hears in 1980 the pupil write a suicide note saying he wasn’t happy at school and couldn’t cope with being away from home.

He said Hepworth started “getting friendly” five or six weeks after the note was discovered.

The school closed in 1988 and the building is now privately owned.