Wakefield Cathedral sex assault trial latest - verger denies groping

File picture of the historic Wakefield Cathedral, West Yorkshire'' 'rossparry.co.uk/syndication / Wakefield Express
File picture of the historic Wakefield Cathedral, West Yorkshire'' 'rossparry.co.uk/syndication / Wakefield Express

A verger at Wakefield Cathedral who allegedly groped a woman as she waited for a service to begin told a jury he “had no reason to touch her breasts”.

Giving evidence today (Friday) former school housemaster Nicholas Whitaker, 34, said he was gay and not interested in women “in the slightest”.

Whitaker, who is accused of sexual assault , is alleged to have approached the woman from behind as she spoke to another verger at the Cathedral, putting his arms around her and “groping” her breasts for up to a minute.

Whitaker told Leeds Crown Court that it wasn’t impossible he touched the woman’s breasts but it was “certainly unintentional”.

He told the jury that the hug would have lasted “at max two seconds, literally the time to say good morning.”

Whitaker, of Richmond Road, St John’s, said: “I would have no reason to touch her breasts.

The chorister, who has a bachelor’s degree from Edinburgh University, said: “I thought it would be a fun idea to give her a brief hug from behind.”

He added that his hands were never open but were closed fists.

The trial heard Whitaker had been at the cathedral to sing in the choir, he described himself as an “on-call” member who gets called in as and when he was needed.

He had seen the woman talking to another verger and it is then that he is alleged to have come from behind and groped her last July.

Whitaker said he did not know anything about the complaint until two weeks later when he was called into his superior’s office and suspended after the allegation.

He told the court he was “stunned” and “mortified”, and was asked to leave the premises immediately.

Giving evidence yesterday, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the jury: “He just literally came up behind me and put his arms under my arms.

“He grabbed hold of both of my breasts and groped and felt and squeezed. It was awful.

“I just couldn’t move. I felt like a scarecrow because I couldn’t move my arms.

He came up behind me like a shadow.”

Whitaker, who denies sexual assault, was a boy chorister at the cathedral until his voice broke in 1985.

The case continues.