Imam denies sexually abusing teens

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A MUSLIM cleric accused of sexually assaulting two boys at his mosque told a court he had a close relationship with them and had tried to improve their unruly behaviour.

Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, told Nottingham Crown Court he was lenient with the boys if they were late or did not turn up for classes at the mosque on Capper Street, Stoke on Trent, where he was imam, because they had issues at home.

Khan, of Owler Lane, Sheffield, denies eight charges, including attempting to rape one of the boys in 2009.

The prosecution say Khan, who led prayers and gave Islamic education lessons to boys at evening classes, abused one of the boys, 13, in the mosque.

The other, 16, is alleged to have been sexually assaulted at Khan’s home.

Giving evidence Khan said yesterday the boys’ mothers had asked for his help to improve their behaviour.

He said the 13-year-old was always getting into squabbles and fights, while the older boy had started staying out late.

Referring to the alleged incident with the older boy, his counsel Robert Woodcock QC said: “Did anything happen remotely similar to what he has described?”

Khan answered: “Nothing.”

Mr Woodcock asked: “Did anything happen with him that could give him the impression that you were trying to abuse him?”

Khan answered: “Not in any way.”

The trial continues