A man who claims he was sexually abused by a former Croydon headmaster more than 40 years ago broke down in court today as he spoke of his "guilt" over not coming forward sooner with the allegations .

The alleged victim said he had felt like a “willing” sexual partner to John Coatman over 12 months in the 1970s before years later realising “the reality of what happened to me”.

Mr Coatman, now 75 and retired, was headteacher of St Andrew's Church of England High School in Croydon as well as involved in a Christian group for boys at the time the abuse is said to have happened.

He is on trial at the Old Bailey charged with buggery and two counts of gross indecency with a youth.

On Monday prosecutor Corinne Bramwell told how "rough and tumble" turned sexual when the defendant was alone with the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

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The victim told the court today Mr Coatman made him feel “safe” and “valued” and he came to see himself as a "willing partner" in the sexual activity.

But as the years went on he came to "understand the reality of what happened to me" and reported it to the police in 2014.

In emotional testimony in front of the jury, the man - who was 14 at the time at the time - broke down in tears as he described the alleged abuse taking place on the floor of Mr Coatman’s lounge.

He added: "The reason I said nothing was because I couldn't bring myself to admit that it had happened to me. I didn't want to accept it had happened to me.

"And believe you me I have been tormented by that guilt ever since - that if others had been victims I could have perhaps prevented it."

The catalyst was the breakdown of his marriage after his wife found out he was watching pornography and meeting adults online, as well as work problems, the court has heard.

The victim added: "It was the time for me to confront everything that had happened to me and everything that I had done.

"It seemed to me that the effects of abuse on a young person can be quite traumatic and come out in all sorts of different ways in later life."

But Patrick Maggs, defending, suggested it was unlikely the victim would have ever been alone with Mr Coatman because of the headteacher's busy work schedule.

Describing the assertion as "deeply offensive", the crying man said: "Well he certainly was available for me".

In a videoed police interview played to the court on Monday, the alleged victim told how he had been bullied before joining the Christian group which gave him a "sense of a home" away from his family.

Mr Coatman, who was awarded an MBE for services to young people by the Queen in 2011, sat impassively in the dock as the victim gave his evidence behind a screen today.

Mr Maggs asked the man why he had stayed in contact with the headteacher, visiting him and even inviting his alleged abuser to stay at his home, in the years after he left Croydon.

The lawyer described how, on one occasion, the alleged victim baked a jam roly-poly for Mr Coatman after the headteacher told him that was his favourite dessert.

The man said he had been in "denial" about what had happened to him, adding: "[Abuse] is a word that has taken taken on significant meaning of late. Time can move very quickly, and I'm not sure in the late 1970s and 1980s that abuse was the title we would have given such things as we do now.

"Now I have begun to recognise it clearly is abuse."

Breaking down in tears, he continued: "It's taken me far too long to realise that."

Following the cross-examination, Ms Bramwell asked the man how his relationship with Mr Coatman had made him feel as a 14-year-old boy.

Agreeing that he had "trusted" the headteacher, the man added: "It was warm, it was comfortable. I felt safe. I felt valued."

In later years, those feelings had cooled to "ambivalence", but with a "certain element of trust," the alleged victim said.

He added: "Bearing in mind, he was the person that brought me to faith. Therefore, it's difficult to square that act of love and kindness with that act that was taking place elsewhere in our relationship."

His decision to come forward with the allegations was an attempt to "try and square that circle" he said, adding: "To me, in a sense, I was a willing partner.

"[I had a] deep sense of regret and guilt that I should have dealt with this earlier - for myself, for my own mental health, never mind other people. For my marriage..."

The couple separated in 2014 after the woman found texts on her husband's phone revealing that he had been engaging in sexual activity with other men.

The man's wife told the court today that she had encouraged him on number of occasions to report the allegations to the police - despite continuing to send Mr Coatman Christmas cards signed by the whole family.

She said: "He had told me that John had had sex with him... before he was legally of age.

"I said if that was the case then John is in a serious breach of trust, and you need to go to the police about it.

"I struggle to remember exactly when...I know I was aware of something because I was very protective of our first child when John came to visit. So I was aware of something.

"John at one point was very keen to change our newborn son's nappy, which I found peculiar at the time. I whisked him away and said, 'It's alright John'."

The woman said her husband, from whom she is now separated, had been "keen" to have the headteacher visit.

She had felt "uncomfortable" with the arrangement, she told the court, but had agreed partly because Mr Coatman was "still a well-respected church man".

The woman also admitted it "took me a long time to accept it was breach of trust".

She added: "It wasn't until we got to the police station that [he] told me, or found out himself, or remembered himself, that he had been anally penetrated."

Mr Coatman, of Leyburn Gardens, Croydon, denies the charges against him.

The trial continues.

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