image source, SOUTH SOMERSET DISTRICT COUNCIL

image captionMr Pallister denied the charges when he took the stand on Tuesday

A former council leader has confessed to having a sexual relationship with a woman who claims he groomed her as a teenager, a court has heard.

Ric Pallister, who led South Somerset District Council between 2011 and 2018, also admitted to having an “adulterous relationship” with another man’s wife.

But he insisted that all the activity was consensual.

The former Royal Navy officer appeared to Taunton Crown Court on Tuesday to defend himself against the charges which are alleged to have taken place between between 1983 and 2004.

Two of his accusers were under 13 when some of the crimes allegedly took place while his adult accuser was the wife of another man. None of his accusers can be named for legal reasons.

The former Liberal Democrat councillor worked at RNAS Yeovilton and was very active in the area at the time.

He ran political campaigns, organised dinner parties and was involved in a church.

‘Physically attracted’

Speaking on Tuesday, he admitted to engaging in a “consensual” sexual relationship with one of his accusers while she was a teenager.

It happened in the jacuzzi at his house.

He admitted being “physically attracted” to the then teenager when she went to college aged 16 and “started to come out of herself”.

Before this, even though she physically had started to become attractive, “as an individual she really wasn’t”, he said.

But he added: “After college she was attractive – physically and as a person you could have a conversation with.

“I was attracted to [the accuser] – I cannot deny it.”

Mr Pallister said there was “clearly some form of attraction between [the woman] and myself otherwise she would not have consented to what have occurred”.

When asked if his alleged victim protested, he replied: “Quite the reverse.”

‘Entirely opportunistic’

Addressing how old the woman was at the time, he said it was before January 1994 – when she was in her 17th year.

It also occurred when the woman was at college – and therefore over 16 – because he was not attracted to her when she was a “difficult somewhat moody” teenager.

Mr Pallister also told the court that he engaged in an “entirely opportunistic” affair with his adult female complainant over several years.

The former Lib Dem councillor said he and the woman would have taken the secret “to the grave” had it not been for his trial.

After the affair began the pair would sneak off to an old caravan.

He said their liaisons were “relatively brief because it would have alerted to my wife that I had been there far too long”.

His accuser alleged that she only engaged in a sexual relationship after he “persisted” with his advances.

Mr Pallister disputed this and said: “It was not true in any respect. Had [the accuser] at any stage indicated to me what was going on was unwelcome to her it would have stopped dead.”

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