A SPORTS therapist from Falmouth has denied charges that he sexually assaulted three of his female clients.

Clifford Pill, aged 66, of Oakland Park, Falmouth is charged with three counts of sexual assault, including inappropriately touching women he was supposed to be treating.

On Monday the trial at Truro Crown Court heard testimony from a victim of one alleged assault, who was being treated for back pain in 2012.

She spoke from behind a screen to protect her anonymity. Her mother and a man who was her boyfriend at the time were also questioned. They cannot be named for legal reasons. The mother said that one evening in January 2012, her daughter returned from her last appointment with Pill, “and she said ‘mum, something didn’t seem right.’”

She said: “I asked her what had happened and she explained that she was having treatment for a lower back problem and was surprised at some of the things that happened during the 

“She was lying on her back and the therapist was standing over her, quite close. She felt vulnerable.”

The mother said Pill had asked her daughter if she ever checked her breasts, and she said yes, which led him to ask if she knew what to look for, and although she said yes again he “proceeded to feel all around both of her breasts, and squeeze both of her nipples.”

She said: “When she told me this I was really quite stunned, because I had worked in the health profession and I know that’s completely outside the remit of a sports therapist treating somebody for lower back problems.”

A man who was in a three year relationship with the alleged victim at the time told the court that he had spoken to her on the evening of the incident, without any knowledge of what had happened, and had mentioned “financial difficulties” he was having.

He said: “She was short with me, and snapped, which was strange as she had never done that before.”

The counsel for the defence asked the victim if she had made the allegation up to claim compensation from the defendant, a claim which she denied.

On Tuesday a woman who said her family had known Pill when she was young, and whose parents had also been his massage clients, told the jury that he had touched her inappropriately in October 2011.

She paid two visits to Pill in September and October 2011, and said on the first visit he told her that she had a lumbar strain, and that it was connected to the muscles in the groin area.

She said: “He placed his hands slightly under my under pants, but I had no reason to not believe the reasons he gave for that.”

She said on the second visit he had asked her questions about checking her breasts, before placing his hands under her bra.

She said: “He was telling me to use the palm of my hand, squeezing my nipples to check them, checking the under arm areas, and as he told me what to do he did it himself.

“It seemed like a very long time to me, but I’d imagine it was only a matter of minutes.

“I felt very uncomfortable.”

Pill then continued the session, and his victim said she was “naive enough” that she didn’t know what he had done was something a therapist “wasn’t allowed to do,” so they got to the end of the appointment. She said: “I left, never to return.” Although before she left, Pill called her back “for a hug.”

She said she returned home, but kept the incident to herself until she told a group of friends a few weeks later, and they urged her to tell her husband.

Although he urged her to report it to the police, she didn’t do so until June 2012, when she heard that another woman had also logged a complaint about Pill.

Pill, a former gymnastics teacher at Falmouth Youth Club during the 1970s, denies the allegations against him.

The trial continues.