A RETIRED vicar has denied raping a schoolgirl more than 40 years ago.

Fredrick Williams, 74, of Central Street, Ludgershall, pleaded not guilty to nine sexual abuse charges at Salisbury Crown Court on Friday, all relating to the same girl.

He stands accused of raping the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, twice between September 1971 and June 1974.

The remaining seven charges relate to other sexual acts allegedly carried out between January 1971 and June 1974.

In the dock at Salisbury Crown Court, Mr Williams requested a hearing-loop to help him follow proceedings.

He spoke only to confirm his name and deny all the charges against him.

Rev Williams was bailed until a trial at Salisbury Crown Court on August 15.

It is expected to last five days