A SELF-CONFESSED child abuser has denied repeatedly raping a girl at a residential special school and molesting another teenager during Sunday school sessions at a Bradford church.

Father-of-three John Laister, 72, has already admitted that he indecently assaulted the teenage girl while he was working as a "house parent" at the Hilton Grange school in Bramhope, near Otley, in the early 1970s.

But Laister told a jury at Bradford Crown Court today that he never had sex with the girl and did not rape her.

It was revealed to the jury for the first time today that in 1973 and 1991 Laister had pleaded guilty to offences involving sexual intercourse with girls under 16.

The court heard that in 1989 Laister was questioned by the Metropolitan police about various sexual allegations and during his interview he admitted that he had "touched" a girl while working at another children's home near Scarborough.

Laister went on to tell the officers that he had also molested other children at Hilton Grange as well as youngsters who attended

Sunday school at the Thorpe Edge evangelical church in Bradford.

The jury heard that because police officers at the time were unable to trace any of the named children Laister was never charged or prosecuted despite his admissions, but a new police investigation into allegations made against him was started in 2012.

That inquiry led to his arrest in July last year and at an earlier hearing this year he pleaded guilty to indecent assault charges involving the alleged rape victim.

Laister, who used to live in Horsforth but now lives in Abbingdon, Oxfordshire, said he had been telling the truth during his police interview in 1989 because he had realised how "dreadful and horrific" his behaviour had been and he wanted to clear the decks.

During questioning by his barrister Laister accepted that the abuse at the residential school was carried out for his sexual gratification, but he described his relationship with the girl as "very loving".

The second complainant has alleged that Laister sexually abused her during Sunday school sessions, at his Horsforth home and in his car, but he told the jury that any admissions he made in 1989 did not relate to that girl.

Laister repeated his admission that he had touched girls at the church, but maintained that the complainant was not one of them.

Prosecutor Nicholas Askins asked Laister how a sexual relationship had developed with the 14-year-old girl he abused at Hilton Grange.

"I think because she was always cuddling up to me and wanting to kiss me and hold me...I think that's the reason why," he replied.

Mr Askins said it was stating the obvious that the defendant was in a position of trust and responsibility and that the girl had every right to expect him to protect her.

"She did," replied Laister.

"Even in just touching her you were abusing that trust to a serious degree weren't you?" asked Mr Askins.

"I was," said Laister.

Laister has denied charges of rape, indecent assault and indecency with a child.

The trial continues.