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Carer 'groped girls' at Jersey children's home

A carer at a Jersey children's home was a "persistent sexual bully" who abused children for years, a court heard yesterday.

Gordon Wateridge, 78, a former house parent at the Haut de la Garenne home, which is at the centre of a multimillion-pound child abuse inquiry, is charged with 19 counts of indecent assault and one of incitement to indecent assault. The charges relate to incidents involving five victims between 1970 and 1974.

Jersey's Royal Court was told that the repeated attacks led to children at the home nicknaming Mr Wateridge "The Perv". Mr Wateridge, who now lives in the Jersey parish of St Clement, is also accused of one count of assault involving a sixth victim.

Youngsters sent to the home had been vulnerable and had suffered from a variety of problems, but Mr Wateridge had abused his responsibility to look after them, Stephen Baker, for the prosecution, told the court.

Mr Baker said that Mr Wateridge would use his strength and size to overpower the girls by giving them inappropriate bear hugs. One of his alleged victims repeatedly broke down in court as she gave details of the alleged abuse suffered at his hands.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had been taken into the home as a teenager after her father had unexpectedly died, leaving her mother unable to cope. She said that Mr Wateridge would regularly lean out and grab her or other girls as they had walked past a snooker table. He would then push her on to the table and grope her breasts and inner thighs.

"It wasn't right," the woman said. "How would you feel? I was a girl of 13 or 14, he was a big man. I would be shouting to stop." She said she had not told anyone about the abuse "because no one would have listened". She also claimed that she had been raped by another worker at the home.

Another witness told the court that she had been left feeling "dirty" after Mr Wateridge had groped her.

Detailing his behaviour, she said: "He would do things like smacking your bottom, grabbing you and giving you bear hugs."

Mr Wateridge denies all the charges. The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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