It's more teacher secrecy

By Kathryn Powley

Tribunal won't identify teacher who took advantage of girl, 15

The tribunal was not satisfied that a good enough reason had been given to identify the physics teacher. Photo / File
The tribunal was not satisfied that a good enough reason had been given to identify the physics teacher. Photo / File

A physics teacher who had a sexual relationship with a female student from the age of 15 has been struck off - but the teachers' disciplinary tribunal is protecting his identity.

The tribunal rejected an application by the victim, who is now an adult, to have her case heard in public last year. Now the private hearing is over, the tribunal has decided to keep withholding the names of the teacher and the school.

Rape Crisis says the tribunal has not served the victim well enough. Her entire life would have been affected by the man's atrocious acts.

The Herald on Sunday is asking the tribunal to rethink its decision to protect his identity.

The man also has convictions for assaulting his former partner but he remains anonymous because the tribunal's policy is to name errant teachers only when there are compelling reasons to do so.

The victim and his former partner told the Teachers Tribunal they and others had suffered "severe consequences" at his hands and they wanted the public to know.

The facts as outlined in the tribunal's decision reveal the girl was in the fifth form in May 1988 when the man offered to teach students to sail. She and others signed up but the others soon dropped out of the programme.

He began rubbing her back and sleeping close to her on his yacht. On each subsequent trip he became more "amorous". He kissed her lips and breasts and told her she was his "special friend".

"She described an increasingly active sexual involvement including heavy petting, oral sex and eventually a full sexual relationship."

They had intercourse in mid-September 1988, four days after her 16th birthday. The last time they had sex was around November 1989.

She complained to police in 2001 - though the outcome of the police complaint is not known.

The tribunal, chaired by Kenneth Johnston, rejected the man's claim the girl was lying as revenge for being dropped from the sailing programme.

The 2009 assault on his former partner arose from him pushing her face into a wooden wall unit and to the ground. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 80 hours' community work.

Johnston's report said the tribunal's reason for protecting teachers' identities was primarily because publishing their name "invariably enables the school to be identified and there is a risk of causing embarrassment for former and current teachers and students".

The tribunal was not satisfied that a good enough reason had been given to identify the physics teacher. Wellington Rape Crisis agency manager Natalie Gousmett was furious with the secrecy.

"Just having his teacher's licence struck off doesn't sound like a full accountability for something that will have had a profound impact on her and her life."

Gousmett said the girl had taken a brave step by requesting that the hearing to be held in public.

"He's had his career affected, but what he's done to this young woman will have affected her whole life."

As a result of our story last month highlighting Teachers' Council rules, which throw blanket suppression over all disciplinary proceedings, Parliament's regulations review committee is investigating.

The council's director, Peter Lind, said a formal complaint about the strict suppression rules would be considered by the organisation's board.

A man with a dark past

• He taught physics at a secondary school in the 1980s.
• His wife was the head of PE.
• The school was a one-hour drive from a marina where he had a yacht.
• He offered extra-curricular sailing lessons to students.
• By 2009, he was a 60-year-old charter boat operator and had stopped teaching.
• He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 80 hours' community service for two counts of assaulting his partner in 2009.
• He has been deregistered as a teacher.

Information we can report from the tribunal's finding.


Who is he?

Should this teacher have continued name suppression? Email us at letters@hos.co.nz.

- Herald on Sunday

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