A former leader of Devon County Council has gone on trial accused of groping three women in the 1990s and 2000s.
Brian Greenslade allegedly groped one woman’s breast during a reception at County Hall in Exeter and put his hand down the trousers of another. He is alleged to have touched a third woman at a business which he visited as part of his work as an accountant.
The three women remained silent about the alleged assaults at the time because of the position of power and authority which he held at the time, Exeter Crown Court was told.
They all contacted the police in 2018 after learning that Greenslade had received a formal censure from Devon County Council over allegations that he had harassed members of staff.
Greenslade is also a former chairman of the police authority and when he was arrested, he asked the officers 'Is the Chief Constable aware of this. I was chair of the police authority for many years'.
The 73-year-old, of Longpiece, Marwood, near Barnstaple, denies two counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault.
Miss Jo Martin, QC, prosecuting, said the first woman to go to the police complained Greenslade had put his hand down her trousers during a planning site visit.
The next woman to come forward told police he squeezed her breast at a reception at County Hall in Exeter.
The third complainant said he fondled a breast at a business when she was working late.
Miss Martin said Greenslade has been a district or county councillor for many years, is a former leader of the council and regional leader of the Liberal Democrats.
He has also held important posts with police and health authority and been a well known public figure in the region.
Miss Martin said: "However, in 2018, it emerged that there was another side to his character and following an internal investigation, he was censured by Devon County Council. A censure is a public statement of disapproval of certain behaviour.
"That decision was reported in local media and online and led to three women to come forward with complaints of sexual assault.
"All three said it happened when he was in a position of some authority, either as an accountant or a politician and while all three told others that they were distressed by what he had done, none reported it at the time.
“We say his position of authority allowed him to carry out the assaults and the power and respect he enjoyed would have made him more confident they would complain.
“Why? Perhaps they feared they would not be taken seriously and that their allegations would not be taken seriously or swept under the carpet because of his position.
Greenslade was arrested at his home on December 17, 2018.
He went on to deny all the allegations, saying he could not even remember meeting the third complainant.
Judge Timothy Rose gave the jury panel a list of questions about whether they knew Greenslade or had any close connection with North Devon District Council or Devon County Council.
The jurors were only selected if they answered no to all the questions.
The trial continues.
Torbay Weekly Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.