A SOLIHULL Conservative councillor denied sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl when he appeared in court yesterday (Tuesday).
Councillor Ian Hillas, who was recently appointed chairman of Solihull Council's all-party overview and scrutiny management board and represents the Castle Bromwich ward, appeared before Warley Magistrates after he was arrested by police on Monday.
The 42-year-old from Oakwood Croft, Solihull, pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexual assault involving stroking and groping the girl’s breast.
The alleged offence happened at an address in Cradley Heath at 4am on May 17.
Councillor Hillas, who is a former deputy leader of Solihull Council, elected for trial at a crown court as the case was adjourned until July 28.
He was released on conditional bail but banned from entering the south of Sandwell and Cradley Heath, as well as having no contact with two witnesses and the alleged victim who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Kelly Hale, prosecuting, said: “This case involves the sexual assault of a 16-year-old. There is an aggravating factor in this case of the victim’s age.”
In his ward of Castle Bromwich he supports the Richard Knight Charity which maintains the upkeep of the nearby St Mary and St Margaret’s Parish Church.
Councillor Hillas’ future in local government remains unclear though local authorities do not have the power to suspend a councillor.
Leader of the council, Cllr Ken Meeson said that in accordance with the rules of the Conservative Councillors’ Association Cllr Hillas would be suspended from his position as chairman of the overview and scrutiny management board pending the outcome of any court proceedings.
A spokeswoman for Solihull Council explained councillors sign up to a statutory code of conduct when they are elected.
If a complaint is made to the standards committee they then decide whether to investigate those complaints and subsequently hold a hearing.
From there the standards committee can suspend a councillor for up to six months.
If they feel the punishment should be greater, they can refer that decision to the Standards Board for England who can disqualify a person from being a councillor.