Teacher resigns over historical sexual relationship with pupil

By Patrice Dougan

Both the man and the teacher were granted name suppression in a decision released by the Education Council today. Photo / 123RF
Both the man and the teacher were granted name suppression in a decision released by the Education Council today. Photo / 123RF

A highly esteemed teacher has been struck off after admitting to a sexual relationship with a student in the 1970s.

The woman, described as "at the forefront of [her] relevant field of education", accepted she had engaged in a sexual relationship with her pupil - then aged between 15 and 18 - over a number of years while she was his teacher in the late 1970s.

Both the man and the teacher were granted name suppression in a decision released by the Education Council yesterday.

The relationship became "more intimate than that of teacher and student" when he was 15, the tribunal noted, with the man claiming they had sexual intercourse before his 16th birthday. This was disputed by the woman, who said intercourse occurred only after he turned 16.

In April last year the man approached police to lay a complaint against his former teacher, but after looking into the matter police decided they could not proceed with a prosecution.

The investigating officer concluded that, according to the laws of the time, no criminal offence had occurred.

The man then approached the Education Council.

In submissions to the council's disciplinary tribunal, the teacher accepted she engaged in an unprofessional manner amounting to serious misconduct, the council decision said, and agreed to her teacher registration being cancelled. She had also resigned from her job.

A psychological assessment placed her at low risk of repeat behaviour, saying the incident "appears to have been a one-off occurrence".

"She does not display any concerning variables that are associated with sexual offenders," he said.

"Given her age, a history of [redacted] years of no further such behaviour, and the significant consequences for her since the allegations, it is his opinion that she can be considered as being at low risk of engaging in similar behaviour with any student again."

However, the council tribunal noted it was "concerned by what appears to be a lack of clear recognition or acceptance on the part of the respondent that she transgressed a fundamental professional boundary".

There was "little acknowledgement by her of that", it said.

"The tribunal wishes to state clearly that her crossing of that fundamental professional boundary with a current student was completely unacceptable whether assessed by today's standards or those of the '1970s'."

The woman was described as a fully certified teacher, who in recent years has held academic positions. It has previously been reported that she had been teaching at a school in Christchurch when the relationship occurred.

- NZ Herald

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