Teacher not aroused by pupil
AN RE teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old former pupil told a court he was not aroused by seeing her in her nightclothes.Frank Schmidt, 34, of George Street, Hadleigh, admitted the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, greeted him at her room in a hostel dressed only in a nightie and a dressing gown.
AN RE teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old former pupil told a court he was not aroused by seeing her in her nightclothes.
Frank Schmidt, 34, of George Street, Hadleigh, admitted the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, greeted him at her room in a hostel dressed only in a nightie and a dressing gown.
But under questioning from Martin Evans, prosecuting at Bury St Edmunds Crown Court, East Bergholt High School teacher Schmidt said the sight had not aroused him sexually.
Schmidt, a committed Christian, emphatically denied assaulting the troubled teenager in the first week of August last year, saying: "I am not capable, as a man, of gaining sexual gratification by the use of force.
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"I just could not do it.
"With the benefit of hindsight, I would have nothing to do with her at all. You can accuse me of being naive, you can accuse me of being stupid - I accept all those things.
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"But sexual assault - no."
Schmidt told the court he visited the vulnerable teenager out of "human kindness", intending to take her shopping for food or clothes.
He said his time in her room was spent tidying and washing up and denied there was any intentional physical contact.
Schmidt told Julian Christophers, defending, the girl had hugged and kissed him as he left the hostel, but he said it was the first time anything like that happened since an end-of-school prom night several weeks earlier.
He said he made several phone calls to the girl following the visit to arrange another shopping trip.
The first three calls were diverted to an answering machine. But on the fourth occasion he arranged to visit the hostel again.
His initial suggestion to meet in Burger King was rejected by the girl because she needed to pack for a forthcoming Christian retreat, Schmidt told the court.
Under cross-examination from Mr Evans, Schmidt said he was "cheesed off" when he arrived to discover the girl was not there and had left him a card at reception.
But he admitted that was not an adequate explanation for the fact that he did not leave the two bags of groceries he claimed to have bought.
Mr Evans asked Schmidt why he bought food if he knew the girl was going on holiday. Schmidt replied he was unsure what accommodation she would be staying in and thought she might need it.
He admitted he was worried about the state of the girl's accommodation. But said he had not contacted her since his second visit because he was away on holiday.
Schmidt denied Mr Evans' claim that he "dropped her like a stone" because something unpleasant happened at the hostel. And said the card he was left was an invitation for further contact, rather than the firm brush-off described by Mr Evans.
The teacher also denied Mr Evans' claims he discussed his sex life with the teenager, laughing at the suggestion he had sex with his wife in the garden while neighbours were having a barbecue.
Mr Evans asked Schmidt why he told his line manager Denise Morecombe about the liaisons with the girl when he failed to tell his wife or other teachers at the school who had cared for the girl.
Schmidt said he had no explanation.
The court then heard from Susan Keble and Roger Reid, two senior teachers at East Bergholt High. Both praised Schmidt's dedication to his job and described him as an exemplary teacher.
But, in his summing up, Mr Evans told the jury Schmidt's skills in his teaching job did not mean he was innocent. He admitted the jurors would face a difficult decision, but urged them to pass a guilty verdict.
Mr Christophers said Schmidt had undergone "every teacher's nightmare - a false allegation." He pointed out flaws in the girl's evidence.
He said the lack of evidence in the case meant jurors could not safely convict his client and called for him to be cleared of the charges.
The case continues.