A former primary school teacher, convicted of indecently dealing with female students, had prior criminal convictions and used multiple aliases but was cleared for employment by the Northern Territory’s Teacher Registration Board.
The 50-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty in June of indecently dealing with two students between 2013 and 2016.
The jury reached a majority guilty verdict on five counts of indecent dealing and one charge of aggravated assault.
The man was found not guilty of one count of indecent dealing, and the jury could not reach a verdict on two other counts.
He was sentenced to over three years in prison, to be suspended after 12 months.
On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Graham Hiley lifted a suppression order relating to the publication of the details of the former teacher’s string of prior, unrelated criminal convictions — including one for assault occasioning bodily harm.
His police record documents also show he used four different names.
All teachers in the Northern Territory are required to be cleared by the board and have a current working with children card, said a spokeswoman for the NT Department of Education.
“The Northern Territory Department of Education expects a rigorous registration process be undertaken, including criminal history checks conducted by police,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
The NT Teacher Registration Board said criminal histories provided by SAFE-NT, at the time of registration and during the period of the man’s registration, state there were no “disclosable outcomes” on his national police certificate.
A spokeswoman said the office of the board sighted a passport, driver’s licence and birth certificate as proof of identification and original academic records.
She said the normal process of registration was followed when the man applied as a new graduate of an initial teacher education course.
She said the board suspended the man’s registration when police advised of allegations against him in 2016.
It worked to ensure the protection of children and quality teachers, the spokeswoman said, and advised all other jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand when it suspended the teacher’s registration.
Former teacher betrayed students’ trust: prosecution
Over the course of the trial the court heard the man thought he was “untouchable” and used his popularity to gain his students’ trust.
The prosecution argued he then betrayed that trust through his inappropriate behaviour, thinking the girls would not come forward and report his actions.
The man continuously denied all the allegations put to him, but he did admit he initially lied to police about contact he had with one of his students in 2016.
He said he texted and called the girl over a period of some weeks, but said that it was in order to check on her welfare.
The prosecution argued that it was because he was “infatuated” with the girl and wanted to know what she was doing.
The verdict rejected the defence case that “unfortunately children lie” and the girls could not be trusted because of inconsistencies in their evidence.
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