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Journal story helped bring about claim

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

A WOMAN revealed alleged childhood abuse to police after reading in the North Devon Journal that a pensioner had appeared in court accused of molesting another girl.

Anthony Smale, aged 71, was named in a short piece in the newspaper when he appeared before magistrates in Barnstaple on the first set of charges.

The story gave the second complainant the courage to go to the police and reveal her own alleged childhood ordeal, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Smale, who walks with the aid of a stick, is alleged to have carried out very similar assaults on the two women in the 1970s and 1990s when they were aged nine to 13.

Neither girl reported their experiences to police at the time but both told friends in the intervening years.

Smale, of Fair View, Barnstaple, denies nine offences of indecent assault against one girl and 13 offences of indecent assault or gross indecency against the other. He says he never touched either girl inappropriately.

Mr Richard Crabb, prosecuting, said in each case the abuse started with touching and progressed to more serious sexual assaults.

The first victim told friends about what had happened to her shortly after it happened but did not go to the police until 2012 after revealing her childhood secret to her husband.

The second only went to the police after reading a short report of Smale's first appearance at court in the Journal.

Mr Crabb said the original complainant's name did not appear in the report because such names were not publicised.

But the second woman saw the report and decided to tell the police, saying the paragraph in the paper had given her the courage to come forward.

Mr Crabb said the first girl told her doctor about the abuse at the time and it was recorded in her notes and the second told a friend about her childhood two years before Smale's name appeared in the paper.

He said: "We have two sets of pretty similar allegations from two girls born many years apart, who had never discussed it with each other, both alleging sexual abuse when they were at the same age."

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