Blackburn religious teacher denies 'sexual touching' of girl

First published in News This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , Education reporter

A RELIGIOUS teacher who denies sexually touching a young girl told a court he never had ‘any bad intentions’.

Suleman Maknojioa, 40, of Audley Range, Blackburn told a jury at Preston Crown Court he had patted the primary school pupil’s head, arm or shoulder because she was easily upset.

The Indian-born teacher is accused of touching her legs and of putting his hand beneath her headscarf to squeeze her chest.

He denies five counts of sexual touching.

The married father-of-six, who has taught in mosques in London, Blackburn and in Darwen, said he had not touched her for sexual intent.

He said he would only have touched her leg to move her away if she had knelt too close to him.

Earlier his statement to police had been read out to the court.

He said he had needed to console her at times.

He said: “She always became quite nervous without me saying anything. She was aware she couldn't read the Koran very well.

“She used to get embarrassed and cry so I would try to calm her.”

When asked if he had ever touched her for sexual gratification he said: "Never, ever. It is a crime and an Islamic crime.”

He denied ever placing his hand beneath her headscarf.

Taking the stand, he said: “She is very emotional. If someone spoke harshly she started crying. I would feel bad if that happened.

“Sometimes if she was doing well in the lesson I would say ‘good’ or ‘best in class’. I would pat her arm.”

He added that he had also had to show her a position appropriate for women to pray in.

He said: “I said to her, if she had her arms down low in front of her, that was how men prayed. For a woman, you must put your hands up in front of your chest.

“Kneeling and placing your head on the floor is different for a woman too, and I may have touched her back.”

He added: “Sometimes she would start crying when sitting next to her brothers so I would tell her to come away and sit down here next to me.”

Proceeding

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