6 Jul 2015

Ex-teacher denies inappropriate touching

9:46 pm on 6 July 2015

A girl told authorities her primary school teacher pulled her onto his lap and touched her chest and thighs in front of the class.

The former primary school teacher, aged in his 50s, denied 16 charges of doing indecent acts on girls in his class at the Auckland District Court today.

The man has name suppression and the name of the school where he taught has also been suppressed.

Crown prosecutor Eliza Walker said the girls were aged nine and 10 at the time.

She said the nine girls were touched by the man as they sat on his lap in class and later told authorities they felt shocked, weird and freaked out.

The girl was interviewed by a specialist child interviewer and a recording was played in court today.

During the interview, the student said the touching started with the teacher getting more friendly with the female students. She said he regularly pulled her on to his lap and touched her chest and thighs.

She described being shocked by the touching, which happened in front of the class.

The girl also said he made comments about her togs and body during a swimming class. She said that made her uncomfortable and she got out of the pool.

In her opening address, Ms Walker told the jurors one of the girls described the teacher as the best in the world, but said his touching was weird. Some pushed him away while others were left nervous and uncomfortable, with goosebumps.

Some denied outright

The teacher's lawyer, Stephanie Cowdell, said some of the touching was outright denied.

She told the jurors her client did at times have children on his lap but none of the touching was of a sexual nature. She said some of the touching was inappropriate and unwise but it was not indecent.

Ms Cowdell said her client also hugged and high-fived boys.

She said the defence case was that the specialist interviewers employed by police had directed the children and tried to create things out of nothing.

The definition of what is indecent is likely to be a key part of the case.

Just what constitutes indecency is not defined by the law.

But Judge Russell Collins told the jurors they could look at the time, place and all the circumstances of when the touching took place.

He said they could consider what right-minded members of the community would regard as indecent.

The trial is set down for three weeks.