A METHODIST preacher from Pinner has confessed to sexually molesting a ten-year-old autistic girl.

Charles Morris, a lay preacher at churches across Harrow and Hillingdon, today pleaded guilty to sexual assaulting two young girls between 2005 and 2008.

On one night in June 2005, Morris, 56, was lying on a bed with two young girls and went to touch the breasts of one of the ten-year-olds over her clothes.

Harrow Crown Court heard he put his hand on her shoulder and moved to touch her breasts, but the girl, who is autistic, recoiled and he pulled his hand away.

In the second incident, which happened between January and June last year, Morris indecently assaulted another ten-year-old girl.

He admitted both charges against him, but denied another sexual assault on a young girl. That accusation will remain on his file.

Sarah Ellis, representing Morris in court, described him as “a man of hitherto impeccable character” but said he had accepted he had done something wrong.

Morris, wearing corduroy trousers and a blue jumper and holding an anorak and scarf, spoke only to confirm his name and enter his pleas. He was supported in court by friends, another clergyman and his wife.

He has worked on the Methodist Circuit of churches in Harrow and Hillingdon, giving sermons to 17 churches in the area and worked as a volunteer bookkeeper for Pinner Parish Church.

Following his arrest in June last year, he informed the two church organisations of the charges he was facing and resigned from his posts.

Peter Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden whose diocese Pinner Parish Church falls under, told the Harrow Times at the time measures had been taken with regard to Mr Morris under the church's child protection policy.

He said: “As soon as we heard he had been arrested, he was never allowed to be in any situation where he could be alone with children.

“We have a very strict policy in these kinds of cases, he has been banned from attending any event where children are going to be.”

Morris, of Malpas Drive, Pinner, has been released on bail until sentencing on Friday, April 3, and was told by the judge: “All options will be open to the sentencing court.”

He now has to sign the Sex Offenders Register after admitting the child molestation crimes.