A BLACKPOOL teacher was today cleared of sexually assaulting six children.
A jury at Preston Crown Court took just 20 minutes to acquit Peter Wilson of all charges.
Mr Wilson, 35, was suspended from his school - which cannot be named for legal reasons - after two youngsters made allegations.
They said he touched their bottoms and kissed them.
The teacher, who remains suspended from his job on full pay pending an internal investigation by Blackpool Council’s education authority, denied there was any inappropriate contact.
He said touching was encouragement to children and amounted to a clasp on the shoulder, a pat on the back or a hug.
Mr Wilson cried in the dock as he was acquitted and was supported in the public gallery by members of his family.
The prosecution said the defendant was a “well-liked and well-respected member of staff” up to the point of his suspension for his allegedly “wholly inappropriate” behaviour towards the complainants over a number of months.
The jury was told the youngsters gave similar accounts of Mr Wilson rubbing his hand down their backs or leaning close to them cheek-to-cheek before patting them on the bottom.
Jeremy Lasker, prosecuting, told members of the jury they would have to determine if the allegations were “gossip” with no foundation or, as prosecution said, there was a real and factual basis to the claims.
Giving evidence, Mr Wilson broke down in the witness box as he denied he gained sexual gratification and that any touching was completely innocent and part of his job.
Mr Wilson, of Bentley Green, Cleveleys, said his job was a caring profession and that all the claims had been made up and were “probably malicious”.
The jury cleared him of 11 counts of indecent assault relating to five children.
Earlier in the trial the jury was ordered by the judge to find him not guilty on three further counts in relation to another child.