16 Jul 2015

Jury retire after rewatching interview with student

4:57 pm on 16 July 2015

The jurors deciding the case of a former teacher accused of indecently touching girls in his class have retired for the night after re-watching a DVD recorded interview with one of the students.

Coat of Arms

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The man, aged in his fifties, has name suppression and is on trial in the Auckland District Court.

He has denied 18 charges of doing indecent acts.

The girl told authorities the teacher had pulled her on to his lap and touched her, sometimes in front of the class.

Earlier, Judge Collins summed up the case to the jurors before they retired to consider their verdicts.

He said some of the acts were admitted, while others were strenuously denied.

He said the Crown argues the teacher touched the girls for sexual gratification while having them on his lap.

The defence has said having the girls on his lap was about creating a caring atmosphere in the class.

He told the jurors they needed to ask themselves three essential questions when deciding the case.

The first was whether the acts happened.

Judge Collins said the teacher has confirmed that some of the acts, like holding girls on his knee, did happen but denied he had a sexual motive.

But others, like putting his hand down a girl's culottes, he strenuously denies.

Judge Collins said secondly, they would need to decide whether the acts were indecent.

The law does not define what indecent is, and Judge Collins recommended they consider what a right-minded member of society would believe that to be.

The third area they will need to consider are the circumstances in which the touching happened.

That includes the ages of the teacher and the girls, who were all under 12, and the imbalance of power in the relationship between a teacher and his pupils.

Judge Collins said the Crown is encouraging the jury to use some of the evidence from some of the charges to support other charges.

Crown prosecutor Eliza Walker said some of the touching of the girls could only be sexual and that suggested that other touching, including holding girls on his lap, was likely to also have a sexual motive.

Stephanie Cowdelll for the defence said to conclude that where there's smoke, there's fire would be wrong.

The defence case was the man was a good and popular teacher who worked hard to create a caring environment.

Judge Collins also addressed the evidence given by a teacher aide.

She told the court that she never saw anything inappropriate and never saw the girls sitting on the teacher's lap.

Judge Collins said there were three explanations for that.

The first was the girls never sat on the teacher's lap, but that could not be right because the teacher not only confirmed that happened but that it happened on a daily basis.

Secondly that she was lying, and thirdly that she was telling the truth and the touching happened after she had to leave class to look after a student with severe behaviour issues.

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