A COMPANY boss was cleared of abusing a five-year-old girl after suggesting that social workers had prompted the youngster to make the allegations.
Anthony Musitano, 69, from Poulton, near Cirencester, wept as he walked free from court yesterday after a four day trial.
His wife Jenny also sobbed in the public gallery as the Not Guilty verdicts were announced.
Musitano, proprietor of Musitano Design Associates, in London Road, Poulton, denied four charges of indecent assault and was acquitted of all of them.
In his defence, he told police that he was stunned by the girl's allegations, saying: "I don't know whether social services have put this idea into her head."
The defendant was alleged to have committed the offences ten years ago. But he protested his innocence and several friends and associates turned up in court to testify to his good character.
The pretty complainant, now 15, and living Frome, Somerset, claimed that Musitano carried out the perverted acts when she was staying at the former home of the defendant and his wife Jenny in Woking, Surrey, between April 1, 2000, and September 30, 2000.
Graham Smith, prosecuting, said the allegations were specimen charges.
The youngster said she was sexually abused on a regular basis while she was a guest at the accused's posh four-bedroom house in York Road, Woking, which he also used as a base for his work as a self-employed graphic design specialist.
"It happened almost every day," she said.
The teenager said the defendant would unzip his trousers and abuse in her bedroom at night and in the lounge and his home-based office while other occupants of the property were elsewhere.
She gave graphic descriptions of what he was said to have done.
But in a police interview recounted to the jury, Musitano, charged in his full name of Paul Anthony Musitano, strongly disputed the allegations.
He said: "I can't believe that this is coming from a child of five."
Reminded by detectives that the girl was 12 when she made her complaint to the police, the defendant replied: "I don't know where all this is coming from. It's just not true."
Musitano, the father of a grown up son and daughter, said that the complainant had had problems with her own mother in recent years.
"I don't know if she's doing this for attention-seeking or whether social services have put this idea into her head and she's just said: 'Yes, that's what happened.'"
Guildford Crown Court, Surrey, was told that the girl made her allegations in September 2007 after confiding in a member of staff at her school.
Musitano, of Hill Brow, Poulton, said: "I've been living under this cloud since September 2007."
He added: "I love children - not in a nasty way but in a pure sense."
The defendant said he would tickle and hug the girl whom he described as a "warm" individual who was very "mature and grown-up" for her age. But he insisted that he had never done anything improper.
The defendant, an amateur dramatics enthusiast, said he had been in plays put on by Cranleigh Players, Surrey, and the Herald Players, in Addlestone, Surrey, when he had lived in Woking.
He said he had married his second wife Jenny in 1993 following divorce from his first wife.
After moving to Poulton, he said he also worked selling furniture at a garden centre near his current home.
The jury was told that Musitano had had no previous convictions or cautions recorded against him.