By David Carnduff

A FORMER youth football coach who has been cleared of raping two girls has told how the “disgusting” allegations left him devastated.

Archie Douglas, from Barrhead, went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow, accused of sexually abusing the girls when they were aged eight and 14, as well as assaulting an 11-year-old boy by pushing him into a bath of scalding hot water.

But he walked free after the jury unanimously found him not guilty.

Speaking exclusively to the Barrhead News, Mr Douglas said the ordeal of going on trial had a major impact on himself, as well as his family and friends.

He added: “I am immensely relieved because I have been vindicated.

“It was a unanimous decision on all the charges by the 10 women and five guys on the jury. These things never happened.”

Mr Douglas, 58, was a high-profile member of the Barrhead community when the charges were brought against him.

He was well known for his role as chairman of the highly-successful Barrhead Youth Football Club, which has around 600 members, is the biggest youth club in Scotland.

Mr Douglas said he resigned from that post with immediate effect “out of respect for the club” after the child abuse allegations came to light.

He continued: “I did not want their name being associated with this.

“I also had to resign from my job as a taxi driver at Glasgow Airport.

“I don’t want to be seen as minimising this or celebrating the fact that I was cleared on all charges but people were upset that these disgusting charges were brought against me.”

His sister, Elizabeth Danby, added: “This has been a very difficult time for the whole family.”

The offences were alleged to have taken place at addresses in Barrhead and Glasgow between 1971 and 1985.

Throughout his trial, Mr Douglas denied the allegations.

The alleged victim who claimed she was abused by Mr Douglas when she was just 14 told the court: “He treated me like his girlfriend.

“We were like girlfriend and boyfriend.”

As he stood in the dock, Mr Douglas was asked: “Did you have any sexual interest in these two young girls?”

He responded: “That’s ridiculous. Nothing ever happened.

“What I am accused of is absolutely ridiculous. What I am supposed to have done is absolutely degrading and horrific. I never did that.”

An expert witness was called who suggested that the two girls, who are now women, were suffering from False Memory Syndrome.

A leading psychiatrist has described false memory as “a condition in which a person’s identity and interpersonal relationships are centred around a memory of traumatic experience which is objectively false but in which the person strongly believes.”

Victims of false memory may continue to believe vehemently that their ‘memories’ are accurate, in spite of objective evidence to the contrary.

Giving evidence during his trial, Mr Douglas also told the court that the boy he was alleged to have assaulted had, in fact, slipped into the bath and it was an accident.

Defence counsel Dale Hughes asked him: “How did you feel when these people came forward with their allegations?”

Mr Douglas replied: “I was in a bit of a state. It was very traumatic.”

He also broke down in tears as he told the jury: “I am horrified. None of this ever happened.”

The jury unanimously found Mr Douglas not guilty and he left court surrounded by his family.

Speaking to the Barrhead News after being cleared, Mr Douglas paid tribute to those who stood by him when the allegations surfaced.

He said: “I am very grateful for the support shown by my family and friends while this was hanging over my head.”

Mr Douglas also said he hopes to “move on” from his ordeal but will no longer be active in the community.

He added: “Now I just want to be left alone to get on with my life as best as I can.”