County Council pay £550,000 to woman - then aged 15 - raped and abused daily during her time at Sir Harry Smith Community College, Whittlesey
PUBLISHED: 12:41 12 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:58 13 April 2017
Compensation of £550,000 has been paid by Cambridgeshire County Council to a woman – then 15 - who was sexually abused daily at a Whittlesey school in the 1990s.
The woman - who cannot be named for legal reasons but has been given the name Abigail - was abused almost every day during her time at the school in the 1990s, both in the classroom and at a teacher’s home.
The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show discovered that the county council had ignored written warnings from a social worker about the teacher and continued to let him teach.
Abigail was raped and abused “four, five times a week in the classroom store cupboard,” she told the BBC.
The abuse took place after other teachers had gone home, with Abigail tied to a radiator with a dog collar, naked, and told not to move.
Abigail was abused in the classroom for three years from the age of 15, before the teacher started taking her to his home.
She told the Victoria Derbyshire Show that he would “get me to jump in the back of the car, sit behind the seats and be covered up by a blanket, so that when he got to his house, nobody would see me go in”.
When Abigail reported the abuse to Cambridgeshire Police in 1998, the teacher said their relationship only turned sexual after she was 18 and that it ended because he had fallen in love with another pupil at the school.
He was questioned but released without charge.
Researchers for the BBC found out that the man stood trial in the 1980s after being accused of sexually abusing two girls at another Cambridgeshire school in the county but was acquitted.
The county council is said to have been warned of the abuse by a social worker but the teacher was allowed to move to a deputy head’s role in London. Subsequently though he was banned for life from teaching.
The social worker noted that “I am aware of what I believe to be substantial evidence of professional misconduct - which was inadmissible in the criminal trials - that the local authority should be aware of before making the decision as to whether or not he should continue to be employed as a teacher”.
However, the BBC says it believes Cambridgeshire County Council – the teacher’s employer - failed to pass on information to the head at Sir Harry Smith Community College where the teacher worked and the abuse took place.
A county council spokesman said: “It is deeply regrettable that these incidents happened in the 1990s and we would like to say once again, how sorry we are to the woman involved in this case.
“We have already faced up to our responsibilities for this historic case and made a full compensation payment without putting the victim through the additional trauma of a court case
“However, the council processes, the school itself and the whole vetting and checking process are very different from the systems in place 25 years ago.
“At the time, the only form of check that existed was a police check of any convictions a teacher may have had - and the teacher involved was never convicted of any offence.
“Nowadays schools check individuals who come into unsupervised contact with children with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and the DfE’s list of people banned from working with children.
“References are also taken up and any teacher who had been convicted of an offence or dismissed from post would be identified.”