A former teacher has been cleared of sexually assaulting pupils at an Aberdeen school.
Thomas Neill Montgomery had been on trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court accused of lewd, indecent, and libidinous practices and behaviour towards two pupils at Aberdeen Grammar School in the 1990s.
The 68-year-old had denied two charges, the first alleging that he touched one girl’s legs and attempted to touch her genitals on various occasions, and the second that he touched another female pupil on the leg on one occasion.
Mr Montgomery, of Burns Road, Aberdeen, denied the charges, and he has now been acquitted after Sheriff Margaret Hodge upheld a defence submission.
On the second day of the trial, which began in February last year but has been delayed due to the pandemic, evidence was given by the complainer in the second charge.
She gave evidence and spoke of an incident in which Montogomery “tapped” her leg just above the knee before she “forcefully” moved his hand away.
The witness added Mr Montgomery said: “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”
Following her evidence, defence counsel Gavin Anderson submitted that his client’s alleged conduct on that occasion did not amount to lewd, indecent and libidinous behaviour.
He further argued that if the court accepted that, there would be no corroboration in respect of the first allegation.
Mr Anderson said: “The witness did not say she felt she was being touched in a sexual fashion.
“All there are are three taps to the area of the knee which made the witness feel uncomfortable.”
Fiscal depute Anne MacDonald countered: “The crown contention is that the act of touching of the leg of the complainer in the manner she described does fall into the category of lewd and libidinous practices.
“The complainer herself does not need to say ‘I was sexually assaulted’.
“It’s the Crown’s position that this is quite clearly an indecent act.
“In addition, we have the complainer’s immediate reaction to the touching, with her immediate, forceful pushing away of the hand of the accused.”
Sheriff Margaret Hodge said: “I’m going to uphold the submission.
“It’s extremely difficult to draw an inference that what occurred was lewd, libidinous or indecent practices or examples of behaviour given what seemed to me to be three relatively brisk pats on the leg.
“It simply didn’t come close to what it seems to me someone would interpret as lewd, libidinous and indecent contact.
“That being the case, there is not evidence to corroborate the evidence of the first witness, and there does require to be corroboration.
“In these circumstances, I uphold the submission and Mr Montgomery will be acquitted.”
Aberdeen City Council confirmed Mr Montgomery was no longer employed by the local authority.