Professor cleared of sex assault

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The Independent Online
A professor of philosophy was cleared by a jury yesterday of sexually assaulting two women in his study after meeting them at a university garden party.

Professor John Cottingham, 54, the head of Reading University's philosophy department, said the case at Reading Crown Court would bring home to his colleagues how vulnerable they could be to unscrupulous people.

His accusers, now aged 22 and 24, claimed the professor turned the conversation to the Marquis de Sade and talked about whips, chains and pain before stripping them and molesting them.

But Mr Cottingham said that the girls came up to his study after they met in the university garden and one had done a striptease act before kissing her friend.

Mr Cottingham said: "This has obviously been a hideous year for myself and my family. I am very glad it has an outcome in which I have been completely vindicated."

His wife, Myra, and children, Joanna, 17, and Matthew, 20, hugged and broke down in tears as the jury of eight men and four women returned its not guilty verdict on indecent assault charges.