Teacher denies abusing position of trust

A TEACHER at a Suffolk boarding school accused of kissing a student has denied abusing his position of trust and “crossing the pupil/ teacher line”.Stuart Barley admitted sending the teenage girl emails that in hindsight he would not have sent but denied that he had flirted with her in an attempt to “move the relationship on”.

A TEACHER at a Suffolk boarding school accused of kissing a student has denied abusing his position of trust and “crossing the pupil/ teacher line”.

Stuart Barley admitted sending the teenage girl emails that in hindsight he would not have sent but denied that he had flirted with her in an attempt to “move the relationship on”.

Barley, 45, has denied two offences of abusing a position of trust by having sexual activity with a child under 18. The school or the alleged victim cannot be named for legal reasons.

It has been alleged that the father-of two exchanged flirtatious text messages and emails with the girl and on Valentine's Day sent her a text saying “This is your free hugs and kisses voucher valid for two weeks”.

Barley, who was described as a “well regarded and popular teacher” also hid the girl's favourite sweets around her room and at school parties gave her extra glasses of wine, it was alleged.

David Wilson, prosecuting claimed that Barley became infatuated with the girl and on two occasions kissed her on the lips - once in his office and then ten days later when he followed her to her room after a party.

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Giving evidence yesterday on the second day of his trial Barley told the court he had been a teacher for 24 years and that he had got on well with the alleged victim and had a good relationship with her.

He said he had regularly sent her and other pupils emails and text messages to arrange tutorial meetings and the fact that he put kisses on the end of messages to her had no special significance.

He claimed that on the occasion the girl went to his office to collect the memory stick she had lent him he had kissed her on the cheek to say thank-you and thought afterwards that he should not have done it and apologised.

He said ten days later he had been serving behind the bar at a school fancy dress party and had given the alleged victim an extra glass of wine after someone left it on the bar.

He followed her to her room later in the evening after she complained of injuring her foot following an incident between her and another girl and he had given her a reassuring hug.

At that point he became aware of another pupil standing in the doorway and heard her say “I caught you. Well, well, well.”

Barley said he made some reference to it being a mistake but denied telling the pupil's boyfriend that she had caught him kissing the alleged victim.

Cross-examined by Mr Wilson, Barley accepted that as an experienced teacher he was aware of “what boundaries are appropriate and what are inappropriate” and was aware of not crossing the line as far as pupil/teacher relationships were concerned.

Asked whether he thought kissing a pupil on the lips would be wrong Barley replied: “Definitely yes”.

Asked by Mr Wilson if he was aware it would be criminal behaviour Barley replied “Yes”.

Barley denied sending the girl a text on Valentine's Day saying “This is your free hugs and kisses voucher valid for two weeks” but said he did give her a home-made voucher entitling her to “hugs and Skittles” which were her favourite sweets.

The trial continues today.

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