A FIREFIGHTER was found not guilty of seven counts of sexual activity with a child at Chichester Crown Court earlier today.
Father-of-two Jason Ward, 42, of Selden Road, Worthing, sat expressionless as the jury delivered its verdict while members of his family cried.
The court heard how Mr Ward allegedly abused the girl multiple times between 2010 and 2012 when she was aged 13 to 15.
In his summary, Judge Christopher Parker said Mr Ward had claimed that he had never touched the girl inappropriately and had never had an interest in teenage girls.
Mr Ward was described as a man of good character, having never been in trouble with the law before. A character reference given by fellow firefighter Paul Holden said Mr Ward was ‘trustworthy and loyal’ and that he had no doubt over Mr Ward’s morals and honesty.
The girl said she decided to tell someone about the ‘abuse’ after reading a book about a girl who had been sexually abused.
In her video evidence she said: “I had been reading the book and felt I needed to tell someone. It led to me thinking ‘what have I done to deserve this?’”
She said that the alleged abuse had ‘affected me in many different ways’.
The jury spent more than five hours deliberating the evidence and asked to see the girl’s evidence for a second time. A unanimous not guilty verdict was delivered for each of the seven counts.
Mr Ward declined to comment following the trial.