David Reilly, from Inch in Edinburgh, was alleged to have fondled the 17-year-old apprentice on various occasions as the pair worked together at Edinburgh City Mortuary.
During one incident, Reilly was said to have deliberately pushed his body against the school-leaver as she moved a corpse into a large industrial-sized fridge at the morgue.
The teenage girl, who had left school just months before, said 51-year-old Reilly also regularly touched her on the shoulders and stroked her hair while giving her compliments when she worked as an anatomical assistant.
The alleged mortuary victim, who cannot be named due to legal reasons, added Reilly’s behaviour had left her “depressed and upset” and she was forced to take time off work and was eventually prescribed anti-depressants by her doctor. But following three days of evidence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Reilly was told he was free to leave the dock yesterday after Sheriff Peter McCormack found him not guilty of sexual assault. Sheriff McCormack said: “Sexual assault is defined as intentionally or recklessly touching [another] sexually.
“Touching is sexual if a reasonable person considers it to be sexual. I have little difficulty in concluding in this case that nothing was of a sexual nature. I find you not guilty as there is no evidence of sexual assault.”
The former mortuary worker, now 21, had previously told the court she started at the Capital morgue as an anatomical assistant straight from leaving school in June 2014 and said Reilly had initially been “friendly and welcoming”, but his attention soon became “overbearing”.
She said the older man’s behaviour towards her changed within weeks of her starting her new career.
The woman, who gave her evidence from behind a screen, said the contact was becoming more frequent and escalated in 2015 as the pair worked alone at the mortuary’s bay area taking delivery of a body from a funeral director.
Reilly had told the court he believed staff had made up the allegations against him due to a colleague of his being overlooked for promotion.
He said: “I’m not sure what [the girl’s] motivation is behind all of this.”
Reilly denied any sexual contact between himself and the girl, but did admit to innocently touching her on one occasion shortly after she started work at the mortuary in June 2015. Following police involvement last year, Reilly was sacked by employers Edinburgh City Council for gross misconduct.
He was acquitted of sexually assaulting a woman by repeatedly touching her hair and repeatedly touching her on the body at the Edinburgh City Mortuary between June 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016.