High priest Peter Petrauske denies child sex abuse in 'witch coven' trial
The high priest of a witches' coven in Cornwall has denied sexually abusing children over three decades wearing hooded robes and using daggers.
Peter Petrauske, 72, known as "German Pete" denies attacks on young girls dating back to the 1970s.
Next to him in the dock at Truro Crown Court is Jack Kemp, 69, also accused of taking part in the ritualistic abuse of young girls – he also denies all accusations.
Yesterday Petrauske, gave evidence during which he said he had been a pagan for 55 years taking part in "Sabbath" rituals, had an alter in his bedroom and books on the occult and witchcraft.
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Petrauske, of The Beacon, Falmouth, admitted having robes, daggers, eye masks and a whip, insisting they were all for ceremonial purposes only.
Sean Brunton, defending, asked: "Have any of those items been used to frighten or assault children at any stage."
He replied: "No never."
Earlier in the trial, three women gave evidence alleging as children Petrauske either sexually abused them or was present when others did.
Yesterday he said: "I never knew them girls. I don't know them now."
During cross-examination from Jason Beal, prosecuting, Petrauske said around ten years ago a girl aged around six years old came to live with him and his two sons at the request of her mother.
Mr Beal asked where the child slept.
The defendant replied: "She slept in my bed with me. I would read her a story and she would fall asleep. Sometimes she would sleep in the boys' room.
"I treated her as a daughter – not as a sex object."
He told the court neither social services nor the girl's school knew of the living arrangements.
At the start of the trial witnesses alleged in recent years they saw Petrauske touching young girls inappropriately.
He said yesterday: "I think it must be some sort of a conspiracy. I don't know why they would say such things."
Referring to the alleged victims from 1970s, he said: "I don't doubt these things happened to them. I reckon that somebody must have done it in robes with hoods but it wasn't me."
He said years ago he had heard on the "grapevine" there was a coven sexually abusing children in the area but he was not involved.
Mr Beal said: "You played a part in it didn't you? As a part of the attraction you have had for many years to young female children."
The barrister asked why older alleged victims had implicated him in the abuse.
Petrauske said his photograph had appeared in the newspapers when he gave interviews about the murder of fellow pagan Peter Solheim.
The 56-year-old was tortured before being thrown alive into seas off Cornwall in 2004.
His partner Margaret James was jailed for conspiracy to murder but her accomplices have never been brought to justice.
During the current trial one of the alleged victims told the court Mr Solheim had raped her when she was a child at one of the coven's meetings.
Petrauske said: "They (the alleged victims) had a photograph of me in their minds."
Mr Beal replied: "The picture they had in their minds is of the face of the man who abused them."
He replied: "I never knew them, not then, not now, not ever."
The trial continues.