• Wed. Jun 16th, 2021

A former teacher at an English language school in Perth has avoided jail for indecently touching an international teenage student


May 17, 2021

A former teacher at an English language school in Perth has avoided  jail for indecently touching an international teenage student.

Key points:

  • The man was found guilty of five offences after indecently touching the girl
  • The court heard he had deceived the victim by taking her to his home
  • The victim was ‘particularly vulnerable’ because of her limited English

The 33-year-old man, who the ABC cannot name for legal reasons, was found guilty by a District Court jury of five offences — of indecently dealing with a child under their care, supervision or authority.

The offences were committed against a 17-year-old girl, from Asia, when she was a student at the college more than three years ago.

The court was told the teacher became attracted to the teenager despite being bound by a code of conduct, which prohibited any romantic relationships between teachers and students, as well as any social interaction outside of school hours.

He asked her for her telephone number, which she provided, and he then arranged a meeting at an inner city park, at which the court heard he held her hand and looked at her in way she said made her feel uncomfortable.

The girl said because she liked and respected the man as a teacher, she then sent him a card written in broken English, that included a love heart, which he believed was a reciprocation of his affection.

Accused took victim to his home

He later asked her out for coffee during school hours, and while she thought they were going to a cafe, he took her to his home, where he indecently touched her over her clothes repeatedly.

She later reported what happened to the woman she was staying with, who the court heard was her guardian, who reported it to police.

The former teacher, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, took the girl to his home.

Judge John Staude accepted at the time the man was “in a position of some vulnerablity” because his marriage had broken down, but he said his actions were “entirely unprofessional”.

Judge Staude told the man he was ”not permitted to pursue a romantic relationship with [the victim], you were not permitted to take her from the campus as you did”.

“You were not even permitted to leave the campus yourself during teaching hours,” the judge said.

Victim was ‘particularly vulnerable’

Judge Staude said the victim was “particularly vulnerable” because of her limited abililty to speak English and also because of her cultural background, which meant she treated teachers with respect and the idea of an intimate relationship with one was incomprehensible to her.

Judge Staude accepted the former teacher had not been physcially coercive to the teenager but said he had deceived her by taking her to his home and she then had been unable to resist his actions.

He also noted that he had “permanently compromised his teaching career” but said that was because of his “selfish and foolish” actions.

“The victim has had the experience of having been sexually abused by a person that she respected, trusted and had affection for,” the judge said.

“She is likely to be affected by that experience for a long time.”

Judge Staude said while the offences were serious, they were at the lower end of the scale and a 12-month suspended jail term was appropriate.

The court heard after being charged with the offences the teacher had lost his Working With Children permit and he had since found it difficult to find employment.

His laywer also said her client had found the court process quite daunting and he had “really learned his lesson”.

It was the second time the man had stood trial— his first hearing was in March last year but the jury was discharged after being unable to reach verdicts.

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