Retired vicar, 85, ‘pawed at married curate’, court hears

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 A RETIRED 85-year-old vicar sexually assaulted a female curate after leaping at her ‘like a rabbit out of rabbit hole’, a court heard.

Jurors heard Reverend Geraint Hughes told the trainee vicar: ‘I really miss having cuddles.’ The shocked married woman tried to fend off the elderly clergyman and, in a bid to distract him, even suggested: ‘Let us pray.’

But Hughes, pictured, continued to stroke the woman’s neck and hair while planting unwanted kisses on her, the jury was told. The curate was visiting Hughes’s home to discuss Sunday services when he suddenly ‘shot out of his chair’ and wrapped his arms around her, it was said.

Reverend Geraint Hughes, the former Dean of Brecon, arrives at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court

Reverend Geraint Hughes, the former Dean of Brecon, arrives at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court

At Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court, prosecutor Nicola Powell said: ‘He told her he really missed having cuddles and needed some. As he hugged her he said, “This is nice physical contact”. He attempted to kiss her and caught her on the lips on one occasion.’

Oxford-educated Hughes, the former Dean of Brecon Cathedral in Wales, lost his wife and daughter the year before allegedly lunging at the female curate.

Miss Powell said: ‘The touching was sexual and she was not consenting to it. She confessed to her husband and her mother before the Archbishop of Wales became involved.’

The curate – who cannot be named for legal reasons – said she gave Hughes a quick hug when she arrived at his home for the 90-minute meeting on February 20 last year. But she added that when she got up to leave ‘he got out of his chair like a rabbit out of a rabbit hole’.

She told the jury: ‘He came towards me quite fast with his arms out… it wasn’t like a normal hug, he had my arms pinned, we were locked together. My brain was not computing what was happening.

‘He tried to kiss me a few times, I don’t know how I managed to break away.’ The curate was left feeling like she had ‘ants in her head’ after Hughes stroked her hair while trying to peck her.

Hughes, Dean of Brecon from 1998 to 2000, claims it was a misunderstanding and denied getting sexual gratification from the encounter. He admits hugging the curate and giving her one kiss but said he did not ‘cross the line’.

Hughes, of Llandrindod Wells, Powys, denies sexual assault and the trial continues.

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