UK

Fury As Female Judge Rules Married Sex Teacher Was 'Groomed' By Teenage Student

15/01/2015 09:48 GMT | Updated 15/01/2015 13:59 GMT

The Attorney General has reportedly said he doesn't have the power to challenge the "lenient" sentence given to a teacher who repeatedly had sex with a 16-year-old pupil and walked free from court, after a judge said the young victim "groomed" him.

Complaints have been made after former religious studies teacher Stuart Kerner, 44, from Kent, was handed an 18-month suspended sentence for having sex with the girl at school and at home, meaning he will not go to prison if he behaves well during that period.

The Attorney General's Office tweeted last night that it had received complaints about the sentence and had said it would investigate, but now apparently can't review the sentence according to a tweet from BBC journalist Dominic Casciani.

Jurors had heard he took the girl's virginity on a yoga mat on the floor of a Bexleyheath Academy storeroom, the same week his wife miscarried their second child.

stuart kerner

The judge said Kerner was "groomed" by the 16-year-old

He later drove her to his home where the pair had sex, kissed and cuddled.

Female judge Joanna Greenberg QC sentenced him after Kerner was found guilty of two counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust.

The judge said it was clear that the teacher's 16-year-old victim was "obsessed" with him.

"(The victim) pursued you," she said.

In comments slammed by charities, she said: "If grooming is the right word to use, it was she who groomed you, (and) you gave in to temptation."

But the victim was also young and vulnerable, she added: "The law demands that you are the responsible adult and that you show restraint, and we know that you failed to do so."

READ MORE:

'Teacher Having Sex With Underage Student' Footage On Porn Site

Drama Teacher Lindsay Black Struck Off For Pestering Pupil For Sex

Mother Discovers Daughter Is Sleeping With Teacher

She added that he "emotionally fragile" at the time of the affair because of his wife's miscarriage, and that while it didn't excuse his behaviour, it could explain it.

Charities and children’s rights groups hit out at the judge's apparent victim-blaming saying it was "highly inappropriate".

Jon Brown from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said the suggestion that a young person could encourage an abuser was "not helpful".

He said the comments distracted from the fact that it was up to adults in positions of authority to make sure they never crossed the line with their young charges.

"We know in school and college situations young people can get fixations on teachers or get attractions to teachers. We know that," Mr Brown said.

"Whatever the young woman was saying, if it was words to that effect in terms of encouragement, he should have walked away."

The director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, Holly Dustin, said: "Judge Greenberg's reported comments in sentencing Stuart Kerner for serious sexual offences are astonishing in that they literally blame the young victim for his actions."

"This case shows how such deeply held prejudicial attitudes permeate the criminal justice system at all levels and raises serious questions about the adequacy of judicial training on sexual violence."

''Stuart Kerner's sentence will be considered. Decision due by 11 February,' the tweet said.

school

Bexleyheath Academy in Kent

The victim, cannot be identified for legal reasons, was present at yesterday's sentencing.

Judge Greenberg described the girl as an "intelligent and manipulative" girl who had been known to make up outlandish stories that she maintained for weeks at a time, and that when confronted by teachers she would respond: ''That's what I do. I lie.''

Judge Greenberg said Kerner was ''emotionally fragile'' at the time of the offending and that while this did not excuse his behaviour, it did help explain why someone with an ''exemplary'' character and clean record would commit such offences.

''It's a tragedy that somebody like you committed offences of this nature, and now fall to be sentenced,'' she said.

Kerner will not go to prison for his crimes if he remains on good behaviour, but his name will go on the sex offenders register and his wife has been sent on enforced leave from her job, the court heard.

But Kerner was also cleared of four counts of the same offence, and also acquitted of two counts of sexual activity with a child that related to alleged behaviour when the victim was only 15.

Defence lawyer Edward Ellis said that on the night the jury gave its verdicts Kerner was in such a state of shock that paramedics and mental health specialists were called in.

During his trial, jurors heard that Kerner took advantage of the ''besotted'' schoolgirl.

They also heard he once told the teenager their relationship was ''written in the stars''.

In a video interview with police, played to jurors, the schoolgirl said: ''It felt special. But, I dunno, it wasn't really. And admitting that does kind of hurt.''

Jon Brown, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children lead for tackling sexual abuse, said Kerner had committed a gross breach of trust.

''This was an abusive relationship and young people involved in situations like this can be damaged in many ways.

Teachers have a duty of care to their pupils and Kerner should have taken steps to distance himself from the girl rather than encouraging her behaviour,'' Mr Brown said.

''It is right that he has been barred from working with children and has been placed on the sex offenders register.''