A SUFFOLK teacher and top running coach allegedly raped a teenage athlete in Thetford Forest and in his car during a visit to a beach, a court has been told.

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Frequently breaking down in tears the alleged victim told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that Stephen Benson, who has denied a string of sex offences against three schoolgirls over a period of 20 years, had controlled her life and had not allowed her to have a life outside running.

She claimed Benson had started having sex with her when she was 15 and claimed it had happened on six to eight occasions over a period of up to a year.

Giving evidence from behind a screen on the third day of 50-year-old Benson’s trial the woman said he had taken her to Thetford Forest for a picnic and had threatened to quit as her coach if she did not have sex with him.

She claimed she did not want to have sex with Benson but had been in an awkward situation.

“I was trying to please him and trying to please my parents. I didn’t want to upset anyone,” she told the court.

She claimed the condom used by Benson had split while they were having sex and she had been frightened that she would get pregnant.

The woman also claimed that Benson had taken her to a beach in his car and she had tried to get out of having sex with him by saying there were too many people around.

“I said I didn’t want to but he would make it difficult. He would stop talking to me and shut himself in the car and threaten to drive off with out me,” she said.

She accepted that Benson probably would not have driven off without her but said it was an example of the way he tried to control her.

Benson, 50, who was a coach with Ipswich Harriers and also taught PE at Copleston High School in Ipswich has denied 11 offences of rape, six offences of indecent assault, two offences of sexual activity with a child and two offences of sexual assault.

Riel Karmy-Jones, prosecuting, claimed over a period of 20 years from the 1980s Benson abused his position and groomed a series of girls for his “own benefit and sexual gratification”.

The girls were in their mid-teens when the alleged abuse started and they had not complained to anyone about what was happening because they were either too embarrassed or did not think anyone would believe them, Miss Karmy-Jones said.

She accused Benson of “worming” his way into their lives and “stealing the last part of their childhoods” by drawing them into sexual relationships with him.

She claimed the girls had submitted to his demands until they were old enough to know better and managed to break away.

The court heard that after his arrest Benson denied the allegations.

The trial, which is expected to last several weeks, continues.

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