In a positive teacher-student relationship, pupils should feel safe and comfortable when in the care of a mentor. As such, a bond of trust is often formed between both parties. While admirable, sometimes this connection can cross the boundaries of professionalism, as shown in the below case study where a former teacher applied for a Working With Children Check clearance after a previous sexual assault conviction.
Background of the case
The first offence occurred at a school retreat that the victim and applicant attended in March 1989. Both parties were sitting around a campfire, having a conversation about their respective struggles with the recent loss of loved ones. The applicant put his arm around the victim's shoulder to console her. Shortly after the applicant kissed the victim on the lips, and she kissed him back. The victim was 15 years old, and the applicant 32 at this time.
After camp, the victim asked if she could speak with the applicant. On the first occasion, the applicant asked if she would like to see him again, to which she said yes. About two weeks after, they met again in the costume room of the school. They kissed multiple times and, in the weeks that followed, met up a few more times.
It was not until 2015 that the victim reported the matter to the police. On top of the kissing instances, she also alleged that the pair engaged in sexual intercourse on multiple occasions, as well as oral sex, which she alleges the applicant forced her to partake in.
How did the applicant respond?
During the course of proceedings, the applicant denied he had sexual intercourse with the victim or engaged in a sexual relationship with her over a period of three years as she alleged. He did, however, plead guilty to the kissing instances.
What did the court decide?
After thorough analysis, the court found no concrete evidence that the applicant engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim. Therefore, they had to consider whether the man posed a risk to children now, and whether they should award him with a Working With Children Check clearance.
As the offence occurred nearly 30 years ago, the applicant had taken steps to rectify his behaviour and claimed to feel great remorse for his actions, the court were satisfied he no longer posed a risk to children. His check was therefore cleared.
Sexual assault can occur in a number of ways. If you feel you've been inappropriately abused, it's important to enlist legal help. Get in touch with the sexual assault lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners and find out how we can help you.