Ipswich: Coach claims sexual relationship was consensual

Stephen Benson .

Stephen Benson . - Credit: Andrew Partridge

AN ATHLETICS coach accused of sexually abusing three teenage girls has told a court he had a consensual sexual relationship with one of the alleged victims which could have led to marriage.

Giving evidence during his trial at Ipswich Crown Court 50-year-old Stephen Benson denied raping and sexually assaulting the girl between the ages of 15 and 18 and claimed they had “made love” on four occasions in hotel rooms after she was 16.

He told the court that he and the girl had enjoyed each other’s company and this had developed into a sexual relationship.

“As far as I was concerned, if things had been different I could have found myself in a situation where we could have got married,” he said.

Asked by prosecuting counsel Riel Karmy-Jones why he only had sex with the girl on four occasions during what he claimed was a three-year relationship he said that sex hadn’t been the main focus of the relationship.

Benson, of Pearsons Way, Copdock, who taught PE at Copleston High School in Ipswich as well as being a coach with Ipswich Harriers, 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.

It has been alleged that over a period of 20 years from the 1980s, Benson abused his position as an athletics coach and sexually abused three teenagers.

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Benson said he had only had sexual relationships with two athletes he had trained and these had been consensual relationships after the girls were 16.

The trial continues today.

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