Vicar Malcolm Jackson cleared of child sex offences
A Teesside vicar has been cleared of sex offences against a schoolgirl.
The Reverend Malcolm Jackson had denied rape, attempted rape, sexual activity with a child and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
During his trial at Teesside Crown Court the 52-year-old said he was "stunned" and "amazed" by the charges, and accused the 13-year-old of lying.
The father-of-three, of Mersey Road, Redcar, was suspended as vicar of Kirkleatham following the allegations.
His suspension has now been lifted, although it has been recommended that he takes time off to recover.
The jury heard that when Mr Jackson was asked by police about a claim that he had attempted to rape the girl in his church hall office he said: "I'm stunned. She is lying."
When allegations were made about him forcing her to carry out sex acts, he replied to police: "Lies, absolute lies."
At the end of the interview, he told officers: "I am amazed at the number of allegations she has made against me, to be honest."
Testimonials from members of the clergy and youth group leaders were given in court.
He was described as "an inspiration to young people" and a "well-liked and respected, trusted professional".
Speaking outside court Eleanor Course, communications officer for the Diocese of York, said: "We are glad that the Reverend Malcolm Jackson has been acquitted of all charges.
"We are praying for everyone who was involved in the case."