Man cleared of abuse wins complaints against council

Paul Townsend

Paul Townsend

First published in Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

AN ABINGDON man cleared of 20 sexual abuse charges has had a series of complaints about his treatment by social services upheld.

Paul Townsend, 29, was charged with 13 counts of sexual activity with a child, three of sexual assault and four of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity in March last year.

Following a three-week trial in November, it took the jury six-and-a-half hours to find him not guilty of all of them.

Oxfordshire County Council was required by law to take action to safeguard his then four-year-old daughter, Esme, who was not involved, when the allegations first arose. That involved questioning her about her relationship with her father, sometimes with him present and sometimes not.

Mr Townsend made 55 complaints to the council regarding his and his daughter’s treatment while the council assessed her safety.

The county council has now upheld “several” of those complaints and said it is planning to implement recommendations from the process.

The council last night was unable to tell the Oxford Mail which of the 55 complaints had been upheld. However, Mr Townsend said it had agreed it should not have used the world “victim” to describe the four girls in the case but “alleged victim”. He also said the council admitted it should not have referred to him as an “offender”.

Mr Townsend said: “We were treated terribly. It felt like I was ‘guilty until proven innocent’.”

He said the council agreed with his complaint that opinion should not have been used in any report.

He also claimed the council also admitted positive comments from family members were deliberately left out of a report.

Council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “A small number of the complaints made by Mr Townsend were upheld. The recommendations resulting from this process are now being implemented.”

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