My nightmare, by gay verger cleared of assaulting woman

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A HOMOSEXUAL verger who was cleared of sexually assaulting a married woman in a cathedral has spoken out about his ordeal.

Nicholas Whitaker was alleged to have touched the woman’s breasts – fondling her as she stood talking to the head verger before an ordination service at Wakefield Cathedral last summer.

But a jury took less than 30 minutes to find him not guilty of groping her following a two day trial. Mr Whitaker, who initially refused to talk to media following the verdict, said he was stunned when he heard of the complaint and never meant to cause her any offence.

The verdict came after the court heard that Mr Whitaker, 34, who is openly gay, had only intended to give the woman a friendly bear hug in the cathedral. He said he had got to know her over weeks before the incident and thought they were on the way to becoming friends.

He told his counsel that when he saw her talking to the head verger he “thought it would a fun idea to go up behind her, give her a brief hug from behind and say hello. It certainly was not my intention to touch her breasts”.

Mr Whitaker, of Richmond Road, St John’s, Wakefield, said: “The last six months have been very difficult for me and my family.

“Knowing what I’ve gone through, knowing I haven’t done anything wrong, to get the sort of coverage and attention it did was pretty nightmarish.

“For people in my boat to go through that is pretty wrong.”

The former school housemaster said his life had been put on hold when the allegations were made, he had been suspended from his temporary post at the cathedral where he has sung in the choir since he was a child.

Mr Whitaker now does not want to return to his old job and is enjoying his role as a director of music at a church in Dewsbury.

“I’m a fairly religious guy. If I was thinking of a church post-verdict I’m concentrating on Dewsbury rather than the cathedral.”

The former music teacher does not think it impossible that he may go back in some capacity to the cathedral.