Gwent Police officer on trial accused of sexually assaulting girl
A serving police officer has gone on trial accused of sexually assaulting a young girl.
John Stringer, 41, from Cardiff, who works for Gwent Police in south-east Wales, is also accused of showing the girl a pornographic video and asking her to mimic the actions.
Stringer is charged with five offences which are alleged to have taken place over almost two years between December 2019 and July 2021.
They include two counts of sexual assault by touching, two counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity and one count of causing a child to watch a sexual act.
Stringer has denied the allegations and went on trial at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday.
Opening the case, Ian Wright, prosecuting, told a jury of five men and seven women: “At the time of these alleged offences this defendant was a serving police officer with Gwent Constabulary.”
Mr Wright said the defendant’s alleged abuse came to light after the girl made a disclosure to her primary school teaching assistant.
The Cardiff primary school immediately notified her parents and South Wales Police who then interviewed her on July 15 2021.
Mr Wright said: “(The girl) disclosed to the police in that video interview that she was being sexually assaulted by this defendant.”
The prosecutor said the girl had told the police that Stringer had touched her inappropriately under a blanket and her clothing and would show her pornographic videos with half-naked women in them and ask her to “mimic” the actions of the performers.
The court heard how there was a break in the alleged offending due to the Covid-19 lockdowns and that when restrictions eased the alleged sexual abuse resumed.
The jury heard the alleged offences are not related to his activities as a police officer.
Stringer was arrested on July 12 2021 at 3.15pm and, after being cautioned, told the arresting officers: “It’s a shock.”
He was interviewed and, despite denying the girl’s account, he was later charged.
The jury was shown the video of the girl’s interview with police during which she told an officer that Stringer had sexually touched her on a number of occasions and that it made her feel “wrong”.
Asked how she had felt when the defendant allegedly showed her pornography, she said: “Very uncomfortable.”
She also claimed that Stringer had asked her about her relationships and sexuality education (RSE) classes in primary school and whether she had learned “how to make babies” or about masturbation.
She told the officer she had told Stringer that she was too young to learn about such things.
The girl also told police that on two occasions Stringer had asked her to touch herself sexually and that she had felt “forced” to carry out the act due to the defendant’s insistence.
In a pre-recording of the girl’s cross-examination, that was also played to the jury on Monday, she was questioned by the defence over why she would follow such instructions, and said: “You know when people tell you to do, like, something when you know it’s wrong but they say it’s right.”
During the cross-examination the defence put to her that Stringer denied her account, but she repeated that the alleged offences had taken place.
Jurors were told that during the four-day trial they would be shown the defendant’s interviews with police, the drawings the girl made during her interviews and the defendant’s internet and chat histories.
The prosecution said experts will be called to show how Stringer had “very, very many searches” for adult pornography on his mobile phone.
Stringer, who wore a dark blue suit and tie with a white shirt, only spoke to confirm his name but on a number of occasions as evidence was being heard appeared to shake his head in disagreement.
He is to remain on bail throughout the trial.
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