A COUNSELLOR who plied his vulnerable female victim with drink and sexually assaulted her has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Ronald Crangle denied any wrongdoing in his job as a home visits counsellor for Stonham Housing, but was convicted of indecent assault after a trial at Durham Crown Court.
A jury heard Crangle knew his victim was a recovering alcoholic, but encouraged her to drink during a counselling session before groping her and kissing one of her breasts.
Crangle, 65, of Kielder, Oxclose, Washington, was found not guilty of three charges of indecent assault against a different client.
Julie Clemitson, defending, said in mitigation: “He has worked hard all his life and is from a generation where pride and standing is important.
“Mr Crangle has been punished by the loss of his good name and by the fact he can no longer work in a job which he did so well for the vast majority of the time.
“To make ends meet, his wife has been forced to take on extra night shifts at her nursing job at a time in her life when she was looking forward to winding down.
“Mr Crangle has to live with shame of what he did, which is something that will be with him for the rest of his life.”
The Recorder, Mr Adrian Waterman QC, sentenced Crangle to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and an 18-month supervision order.
“The victim in this case had been told by her doctor she could die if she didn’t stop drinking,” the recorder told Crangle. “Yet you still encouraged her to drink.
“You told her boyfriend to leave the house before indecently assaulting her, so there was an element of planning to this offence.
“On the other hand, you reached 65 without blemish, and until this happened you were a man who worked hard to look after his family.”
Crangle will be put on the list of banned persons held by the Independent Safeguarding Authority, and he must sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.