Bristol policeman James Williams cleared of child abuse
A POLICE officer has been cleared of sexually abusing a three-year-old girl.
PC James Williams, 28, denied sexual assault by penetration and, after more than four hours of deliberation, a jury unanimously found him not guilty.
The response officer, based at Trinity Road police station in central Bristol, burst into tears – as did his family in the public gallery – as the foreman delivered the verdict yesterday. The three-year-old girl's family, from Bristol, also wept as the verdict ended a two-and-a-half-week trial.
During his evidence, Williams said the allegations had been a "nightmare" that had dominated his life.
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Williams was supported by his family, a representative of the Police Federation and members of the local church and rugby club from his home town near Cardiff.
The jury heard the girl complained of soreness when going to the toilet and had told her mum that Williams had "hurt" her private parts and exposed himself to her.
She was examined at Bristol Children's Hospital and found to have chlamydia – a disease usually transmitted sexually. Williams was arrested and informed of the girl's positive test. He agreed to be tested and was found to have the same type E strain of the disease, which accounts for about half of cases in the UK.
The trial is believed to have been the first in the country where the different types of chlamydia formed a crucial part of the prosecution case.
Williams told Bournemouth Crown Court he was in "complete shock" when he was accused and "didn't know what to say".
The only explanation he had for the allegations was that he remembered on one occasion adjusting the girl's underwear after she had difficulty getting her knickers on properly.
Matters were confused further by the fact that, 11 months before the girl tested positive, her father had been diagnosed with chlamydia of the eye. She had stayed with him around that time and also had a "weepy eye" but was never diagnosed with the infection by a doctor, or tested for it.
Almost two years after accusing Williams, and having been treated with antibiotics, the girl had chlamydia symptoms again and tested positive for it once more, having not had any contact with him in the intervening time.
Medical experts told the jury that between five and eight per cent of treatments for chlamydia are unsuccessful and symptoms can resurface.
But it could not be deduced whether the girl's later symptoms were the return of a previous infection or a new one altogether.
Williams joined Avon and Somerset Constabulary in December 2004 and has a clean disciplinary record.
He is currently suspended from duties and cannot be reinstated until the force has reviewed his situation and whether there was any form of misconduct. The allegations related to time when he was off-duty.
Police spokeswoman Claire Stanley said: "James Williams went on trial following a long and complex investigation that was the first of its kind to appear before the courts.
"Following meticulous enquiries and consultation with leading national experts, the Crown Prosecution Service believed that there was sufficient evidence to charge.
"We respect the decision of the court and acknowledge that making decisions in complex cases of this nature is never easy. The verdict will not deter the police and CPS in their efforts to bring other cases involving allegations of sexual abuse against children before the courts. While James Williams has been acquitted, he will remain suspended from duty until our internal processes are complete."
Williams declined to comment after the verdict.