Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Nightmare Year

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Nightmare Year

Article excerpt

Clergyman's relief as child sex charge dropped

A senior churchman who was cleared of a child sex charge and the wife who stood by him today spoke of their year of hell.

The Reverend Peter Lister's nightmare began when police visited him at his office and told him an allegation of child sex abuse had been made against him.

The charge against Mr Lister was that he had indecently assaulted a boy under the age of 14 more than 20 years ago, while he worked in the North East.

Mr Lister's wife Jenny, also a vicar, was stunned when told of his arrest but admits the allegation made her doubt him, putting a huge strain on their marriage.

Speaking from their home, Mr Lister said: "I'm angry at the huge stress it has caused, particularly on my wife.

"I'm not angry at the man who made the allegation ( I'm very sorry for him. He needs a lot of help and support and I don't know if he will get it."

The alleged attack was said to have taken place some time between January, 1979, and January 31, 1983, when he was a director of education with the Church of England's Newcastle Diocese.

Mr Lister, 63, denied the charge and last week the case was dropped when the prosecution accepted there was no realistic prospect of conviction.

Today a relieved Mr Lister told how his ordeal began last February, when the charges against him were brought. He was suspended from his post as director of education for Lichfield Diocese, in Staffordshire, and gave up his church duties. He first appeared before magistrates in Bedlington, in May and the case was sent for trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

As the case against him collapsed, Judge Guy Whitburn formally found Mr Lister not guilty and told him: "You leave court as you entered, without a stain on your character."

But the day his nightmare began will stick in his head forever. …

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