Update: Parents’ shock as PE teacher faces 23 historic sex charges

A MOTHER today spoke of her shock at learning a PE teacher at her child’s secondary school has been charged with a string of sex crimes against girls under the age of 18.

Stephen Benson, 50, of Pearsons Way, Copdock, was suspended from his post at Copleston High School last week after he was charged with the crimes dating back over a 21-year period.

On Friday parents of students at the school in Copleston Road received letters informing them of the charges.

One mother, who asked not to be named, said: “It was a shock to have the letter through. We knew a teacher had been off school but we didn’t know the reasons. To find it out was a shock.”

Benson is due to appear at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on July 11 charged with two counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of sexual assault, nine counts of rape and ten counts of indecent assault. The 23 charges relate to incidents against three female victims who were aged under 18 years at the time the offences which happened between 1989 and 2010.

Copleston principal, Shaun Common, said: “As a school we take the safety of our students extremely seriously. As soon as we were alerted to these matters by Suffolk police, Mr Benson was suspended with immediate effect.

“The charges do not relate to any current pupil at Copleston High School.

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“We have rigorous safeguarding procedures in place and these have been followed in relation to this case.

“We have written to all parents to alert them of the issue and stand ready to support students, parents and staff as required.”

While officers at Suffolk police have declined to comment on the case specifically, detectives have urged any victims of sexual violence to come forward and report the crime.

If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault, call Suffolk police in confidence on 101.

When approached by the Ipswich Star, Benson declined to comment.

To see how we broke the news of the charges Mr Benson faces, clink on the link at the top of the page.