A FORMER police officer who is accused of rape and sexual assault against several teenage girls told one alleged victim they had to keep their relationship “secret”, a court heard.

David Waller was allegedly on duty when he met one of the 13 complainants after she reported harassment to Cleveland Police.

The 34-year-old, who denies all of the charges, went on to find the teenager’s number, arranged to meet up and started a “secret” relationship with her, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Quoting the complainant, Judge Toby Hedworth said: “He sent a message, I don’t know how he got my number.

“He said that we had to be secret, he told me to keep the relationship private.”

In a police interview Waller responded: “I do not recollect making the first move and I didn’t say anything about keeping the relationship under wraps.”

But the former police officer was branded an “opportunist” by another alleged victim who claimed he “grabbed” her bottom.

She said she “could not comprehend” the act because “no one has touched me like that apart from my husband”.

Waller is also accused of sending messages to an underage girl reading ‘I want to see you naked’ and asking ‘What bra size are you?’

The court heard he continued to message the teenager despite being warned by three different people that she was underage, including her own mother.

In a police interview Waller said: “I got a message from her mum on Facebook and she said ‘Do you know she is a child?’ I was shocked.

“She told me she was 17, almost 18 so I didn’t see a problem with it. It did escalate to being sexual but it there was no physical contact.

“She attractive girl with a lovely figure but I was not grooming her. Why should I not compliment her?”

But added that it “probably wasn’t” appropriate to message her.

Summing up the three week trial, Judge Hedworth urged jurors, who have retired to consider their verdict, to take Waller’s evidence into account after he “effectively gave you his life story”.

He said: “The prosecution says a variety allegations were made by people who are now women but at the time were girls under 16.

“Most of them are unconnected to each other, each reported a pattern of behaviour which the defendant says is fabricated.

“But the defence say they are carefully articulated allegations brought by other allegations and there are some embellishments.

“It is for you to decide.”

Waller, of Eastleigh, Thornaby, is accused of meeting some of his victims through his roles with Cleveland Police, as a flying instructor and through various amateur theatre groups between 2004 and 2016.

He denies one charge of rape, three counts of inciting underage girls to engage in sexual activity, three of meeting or attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, two counts of sexual activity with a child, and one of sexual assault.