THE former housing manager of Mid Devon District Council has been jailed for sexually assaulting a female employee at work and an unconnected allegation of rape.

Mark Baglow abused his position in charge of an office at the council’s headquarters to put his hand up a woman’s top and fondle one breast as she was photocopying documents in 2019.

He smirked and commented: “It’s not just padding then”.

He was prosecuted after being arrested for completely unconnected offences of rape against a different woman shortly after the first Covid lockdown began in 2020.

Baglow was the group manager in charge of the council’s housing stock when he carried out the sexual assault at work but has since left and was running his own business in North Devon until he was sent to jail today, Friday, April 5.

He was found guilty at the end of a two-week trial at Exeter Crown Court in February at which the prosecution alleged he was a pervert with “a sense of entitlement” towards sex.

He was found not guilty of sexual assaults on a teenaged girl in North Devon and of four others while at work, including simulating sex with the woman.

She wrote a victim impact statement saying she had been forced to change job and had been badly affected psychologically by his abuse.

Baglow, aged 54, of Landkey, Barnstaple denied but was found guilty of one sexual assault which took place while at work and of two rapes and two assaults by penetration which took place elsewhere.

He was jailed for a total of 13 years by Recorder Mr Jaron Crooknorth, sitting at Bristol Crown Court.

One year of the sentence was for the assault at the Mid Devon District Council offices, in relation to which the Judge told Baglow: “You were a manager and took the opportunity while you were at work to place you hand up the victim’s jumper and place it on her breast.

“Her victim impact statement shows that this has had a severe effect on her life. Your culpability is raised due to the position of trust you held over her.

“In the pre-sentence report you now accept how you violated a co-worker. In your words, you have ‘done wrong and brought great pain’ to both the women.

“It is a great pity you did not realise this much earlier.”

During the trial, Mr Lee Bremridge, prosecuting, said an adult female who had no connection with Baglow’s work made the most serious allegations of rape against Baglow in March 2020 and police interviewed the two other complainants during their inquiry.

Officers discovered that there had been a complaint of sexual harassment against Baglow when he was working for the council which had been investigated internally.

Mr Bremridge said the former council employee made her complaint to the council before the other allegation came to light and gave further details during a video-recorded police interview after Baglow’s arrest in 2020, by which time she no longer worked for the council.

He said: “She told the police there were several times when he touched her inappropriately or sexually. It began by him brushing against her. The first substantial thing happened when she took some letters to him and he grabbed her leg and squeezed.

“He made a comment, asking if this is what pole dancer’s legs feel like; a reference to her training to be a fitness instructor. Nothing more happened for a few months and then his behaviour started again.

“She described his over-sexualised views and sense of entitlement in which he felt he could touch her whenever he wanted. On one occasion he came up behind her, put his hands around her and simulated sex.

“He put his hand inside her top twice, once touching her boob over the top of her bra and on the other touching the breast itself.”

Baglow denied all the allegations and said all the women had made them up. He denied being a pervert or oversexed. Asked if he had assaulted the employee at the council offices, he replied “No I didn’t. She has made it up.”

Miss Virginia Cornwall, defending, said Baglow now accepts he had wronged both victims. She said: “He has expressed contrition, remorse and shame.”

Crown Court Reporter