Soldier denies grooming teen for sex

A SUFFOLK soldier accused of grooming a schoolgirl for sex has denied having a sexual relationship with her before her 16th birthday.

Jane Hunt

A SUFFOLK soldier accused of grooming a schoolgirl for sex has denied having a sexual relationship with her before her 16th birthday.

Simon “Jack” Russell told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that when the girl was in her early teens she had initiated a conversation with him about sex and when she was 15 told him that she had had a crush on him since she was 12.

Russell, who was based at RAF Honington, said that when the girl was nearly 16 they had started exchanging “flirty” texts and he admitted that he had “very stupidly” sent her a sexually explicit picture.

Russell denied that he had a sexual relationship with the girl before her 16th birthday and said that allegations that he had sexually assaulted her before then were untrue.

Russell, 42, has denied four offences of indecent assault, three offences of sexual activity with a child and two offences of rape in relation to one teenage girl and indecent exposure and causing a child to watch a sex film in relation to another schoolgirl. The court has heard that he has admitted having eight indecent images of children on his computer.

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It has been alleged that Russell befriended the first girl when she was 12 and over the next five years progressed from kissing her to having sex with her and on two occasions raping her.

The alleged offences came to light when the girl's boyfriend found text messages from Russell on her mobile telephone and she told him what Russell had allegedly done to her.

The police were contacted and when officers examined Russell's computer they discovered eight indecent images of girls under the age of 16.

Allegations had also been made by a second teenager who claimed that Russell had indecently exposed himself to her and asked her to take a photograph of him.

She had also claimed that Russell had made her watch a sex video with him.

During police interviews Russell denied having a sexual relationship with the first girl until after her 16th birthday.

He told officers that she had fancied him and had initiated their sexual relationship.

He denied indecently exposing himself to the other schoolgirl and said she had got hold of the sex video and had watched it herself.

The trial continues today (Tues).