21 Sep 2016

Woman teacher de-registered for sex with student in 1970s

1:21 pm on 21 September 2016

A man says he hopes his complaint of historical sexual abuse by a female teacher in the 1970s will make it easier for other men to come forward.

The Education Council's disciplinary tribunal said the sexual activity between 1977 and 1979 was not illegal, but the woman's actions amounted to serious misconduct.

It said it had deregistered the woman, who was a certificated teacher and had held academic positions.

The man told RNZ he was satisfied with the decision, but unhappy with aspects of the case.

He said he believed it would have been dealt with more seriously by the police and the tribunal if it had involved a female student and a male teacher; and he was disappointed that the woman had not apologised to him.

The man and his wife told RNZ that people believed the negative effects of sexual abuse of teenage boys by women were not significant.

They said that was not correct and they hoped that publicity about the case would encourage more victims to take action.

In a written statement the man said making the complaint had been difficult but he was glad he had done it.

"I have gone back for the 15-year-old boy to say 'this is not your fault - let the authorities deal with it'.

"I have not been in charge of how that has happened but I know I have done the right thing by that boy and I hope my experience will help others," he said.

The tribunal's decision said the woman met the victim as his teacher. She engaged in inappropriate behaviour and had sexual intercourse with him on various occasions.

The victim said that happened before he turned 16, but the woman said it was after he had turned 16.

The decision said the man complained to the police in April last year, but the police decided not to proceed because the laws at the time did not cover sexual offences by women on men, and because the man said he consented to the activity.

The man then complained to the Education Council in July last year.

The decision said the man now regarded the teacher's conduct as abusive and the teacher agreed that the relationship was inappropriate and amounted to serious misconduct.

However, it said the woman did not appear to understand the seriousness of her actions.

"The Tribunal is 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."

Letters in support of the woman said she was at low risk of offending again and that she was at the forefront of her specialist area of education.

Victim says the woman groomed him

A victim impact statement the man provided to RNZ said the woman groomed him and he felt that he had no choice but to obey her.

The statement said the man suffered from depression and lifelong problems because of the woman's actions. He said last year he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The tribunal suppressed all names and identifying details and ordered the woman to pay 40 percent of the tribunal's costs.

An Education Council spokesperson said it was to be expected that serious, complex and sensitive matters would take time.

"However, new rules and processes put in place since this case started allow for cases to be resolved more quickly."

The spokesperson said the teacher's behaviour crossed a fundamental professional boundary with a student which was completely unacceptable whether assessed by today's standards or those of the 1970s.

"It is totally inappropriate, and unethical, for any teacher to have an intimate relationship with a student of any gender."