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Criminal Courts of Justice Alamy

Teacher tells sexual assault trial it was 'major mistake' to have student sleep in bed with him

The man was in his 30s at the time of the alleged offences, while the six complainants were then aged between 17 and 24.

A TEACHER ACCUSED of sexually assaulting six young men has told his trial that he made a “major mistake” to have a student sleep in bed beside him.

The 59-year-old man has pleaded not  guilty at the Central Criminal Court to one count of attempted anal rape and eight counts of sexual assault in relation to six complainants on dates between March 1991 and November 1997 at locations in Co. Dublin.

The man was in his 30s at the time of the alleged offences, while the six complainants were then aged between 17 and 24.

Giving evidence today, the accused denied any sexual interaction occurred between him and the complainant who was first to give evidence to the jury.

This complainant was then an 18-year-old student. He told the jury that he stayed at the man’s house on a night in November 1997 and slept in his bed. He gave evidence that the man’s mouth made contact with his penis.

He told Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, that this complainant got into the bed beside him as his home was “not particularly warm”.

He said next thing he knew the light went on and the teenager was out of bed and getting dressed. He said the teenager dressed quickly and seemed “nervous” and “agitated”. The teenager then left his apartment.

The accused said he got a fright, and “wondered what was going on”. He said he later went back to sleep.

He said he got up and left for work the next morning. He said while driving he became concerned as “this is a serious incident, he shouldn’t have been there”.

“I was wondering why he left, what he might have said or how he would explain how he left the house”.

He said he went to work, then felt ill and returned home where he was “concerned” and “agitated”.

“On the face of it, a student had run from the house of a teacher…. he should not have been in my house…It should never have happened. I should have known better. “

The accused said he accepted it wasn’t appropriate that the student was in his bed describing it as a “major mistake”.

He agreed with his counsel that the school’s principal visited him during the day and showed him a letter written by the student which alleged a sexual interaction had taken place between him and the accused.

The man said he was “really shocked and concerned” when he saw the letter. “My recollection of what I said was ‘that reads very badly’. I don’t remember saying is this a P45 job.”

The accused denied that the incident outlined in the letter had taken place.

Mr O’Higgins then asked the man about his interactions with the second complainant to give evidence to the jury.

This complainant said he woke up on a night in early 1994 to the accused man performing oral sex on him. He told the jury he turned onto his side and the accused “mirrored his movement” before “moving his penis against my back, bottom and hips”.

The man said this complainant hopped into bed beside him as they were “both freezing”.

“We were in a spooning position – me with my back to him. I could feel his penis against my back and I performed oral sex on him in my bed”.

He said this complainant turned away from him and continued to masturbate while he “rubbed himself” against the sheets.

When asked by Mr O’Higgins if he said anything, the accused replied: “no”.

He continued: “It was all furtive, that’s how it worked in the 1990s. To be a homosexual in 1990s was a criminal offence. It was very much taboo.”

Mr O’Higgins put to him that this complainant said he was sleeping on the floor. The accused disagreed, adding that the complainant started on the floor but got into bed beside him as it was cold.

He insisted that the oral sex occurred in his bed.

The man was then asked about the third complainant who gave evidence to the jury.

The now 54-year-old third complainant previously gave evidence that he stayed at a friend’s house in the early part of 1994 along with the accused.

He said he woke up to his face and neck being licked by the accused man. He said there was a hard penis against him and a foot grappling with his boxer shorts. He said the accused man’s penis was hard against the top part of his bottom and he was “gyrating against me”.

When asked by his counsel, the accused said he had no recollection of being at that house with this complainant. He further denied the sexual interaction took place saying, “I wasn’t there”.

Mr O’Higgins then put to him that this complainant said he elbowed him to make the behaviour stop. The man said: If he elbowed me, I’d remember it”.

Earlier today, transcripts of the man’s interviews with gardaí were read to the jury. The accused was interviewed voluntarily on nine separate occasions by gardaí.

During these interviews, the man agreed the first complainant stayed at his house, but denied any sexual contact took place.

He initially denied any sexual contact with the second complainant and said he was “shocked” by the allegations.

In a later interview, the man told gardaí he had performed oral sex on this complainant. He said he “deeply regretted denying it”.

The accused also denied any sexual interactions occurred with the third and fourth complainants to give evidence.

He subsequently told gardaí there had been sexual contact with the fourth complainant. He said he never put pressure on this student, and knew what had occurred was inappropriate.

He said there were “four incidents of oral sex on a reciprocal basis” at his home with this complainant.

The man also rejected any sexual encounter with the fifth complainant, who alleges the accused sexually assaulted him in the toilet of a pub. The accused said, “it’s lies”.

The man initially denied any sexual interaction with the sixth complainant, but told gardai in a later interview that he “assumed he [the sixth complainant] was interested in something intimate occurring”. He said he performed oral sex, but denied attempting penetrative anal sex.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Alexander Owens and the jury.

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