Former town pastor ‘thankful’ after being found not guilty of sexually assaulting a teenager

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court

A former town pastor charged with sexually assaulting a teenager has been cleared.

Stephen Jay, 56, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, where the jury returned a verdict of not guilty after four hours and 59 minutes of deliberation.

Upon hearing the jury deliver their verdict, Mr Jay’s friends and family cried tears of joy and hugged the 56-year-old.

Speaking after the case, Mr Jay said: “I am just thankful the jury came up with the right verdict.”

Mr Jay’s trial began on Monday, where he was charged with two counts relating to an alleged sexual assault on an 18-year-old woman near the Liquid nightclub in Cardinal Park, Ipswich.

He had categorically denied doing anything “inappropriate or sexually” while helping the woman, who had been drinking.

On Wednesday, the court heard that Mr Jay had helped establish the town pastors with other ministers in the town in 2005, with the purpose of helping those in need in the town centre on busy Friday and Saturday nights.

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He had also joined Hope Church in 2009 and previously worked in the slums in Ethiopia and Liberia, helping children with their education and working with ex-convicts and homeless people.

The Reverend Canon Paul Daltry, minister of church and community engagement in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, who had worked with Mr Jay in the town pastors, said: “Town pastors are Christians from all denominations who help and show concern to anyone who needs assistance when they are out in the evening on weekend nights from 10pm to 4am.

“Steve Jay had been part of the management team of the town pastors from the very start of the work during 2006, helping develop the procedures, and was always forthright in making sure the procedures were followed.

“These procedures are designed to protect both those receiving care from the pastors, and also the pastors themselves. This includes always operating in a mixed sex pair, never alone.

“Town pastors never had any concerns or complaints made against Steve Jay throughout his service. He was not acting as a town pastor at the time of the incident and my thoughts and prayers remain very much with everyone involved.”