Man accused of touching girl said she ‘had ants in knickers’

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A 63-year-old man has gone on trial accused of a series of sex offences against five female complainants.

Gordon Tidswell, who now lives in Bridlington, is alleged to have raped two girls and to have committed a series of other sex abuse offences against those complainants and two other young girls.

Some of the offences are alleged to have taken place in the Calderdale area.

He also faces a separate allegation that he attempted to rape a woman in 1980.

One of the girls was allegedly raped by Tidswell while they were at a caravan on the east coast. The prosecution allege that he also raped a second youngster after taking her to a secluded location.

Prosecutor Jayne Beckett told a jury at Bradford Crown Court that the case involved “persistent acts of predatory sexual abuse” committed years ago by the defendant against five different victims.

None of the five complainants can be identified for legal reasons and at the start of the trial Judge David Hatton QC told the jury that they had to try the case without emotion.

Tidswell, who was initially arrested in respect of some of the allegations in June 2013, has denied a total of 23 charges.

The allegations include charges of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault which are said to have been committed between 1980 and 2004.

Mrs Beckett said one of the alleged victims had made her first complaint to the police in 2008, but it was not followed through at the time and the police investigation only resumed in 2013.

The woman alleged that Tidswell had first abused her when they were in a car together on the moors near Haworth.

The jury heard details about offences allegedly committed at locations in Calderdale and the woman also told police that she had been raped by Tidswell when they were at a caravan.

Mrs Beckett told the jury that a second complainant told police that Tidswell had used the pretext of checking her for “worms” to touch her between her legs.

Another complainant described how she had been sexually abused by Tidswell after they went for a walk in a wooded area of Halifax and he suggested that she might have ants in her knickers.

In November 2013 Tidswell was questioned about the various allegations and said he had no idea why the complaints were being made against him.

Mrs Beckett said Tidswell told police that he did not go near little girls and was effectively saying all five alleged victims were lying.

l Proceeding