Sex case teacher sentence probed

Published: Thursday 15th January 2015 by The News Editor

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The Attorney General is to investigate whether the sentencing of a former religious studies teacher who walked free from court after being convicted of repeatedly having sex with a student should be reviewed.

Stuart Kerner, 44, of Aylesford in Kent, was handed a suspended 18-month sentence by Judge Joanna Greenberg QC, sitting at Inner London Crown Court, who said it was clear his 16-year-old victim was “obsessed” with him.

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

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

Kerner, who had sex with the girl at school and at his home when she was 16, was found guilty last month of two counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) tweeted last night: ”AGO have received complaints about Stuart Kerner sentence and will consider whether to refer to Court of Appeal under ULS (unduly lenient sentences) scheme.

”Stuart Kerner’s sentence will be considered. Decision due by 11 February.”

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

In sentencing Kerner, Judge Greenberg said: “It’s apparent that the jury was not prepared to rely on the evidence of (the victim) insofar as it was not supported by other evidence.”

Judge Greenberg described her 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.”

But she was also young and vulnerable, the judge said, and Kerner was in a position of trust.

”The law demands that you are the responsible adult and that you show restraint, and we know that you failed to do so,” the judge told Kerner.

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.

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

Prosecutors said mobile phone records and student attendance logs backed up the charges for which he was convicted.

But Kerner was 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.”

Kerner walked straight from court in to a waiting car. His supporters did not wish to comment.

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.”

Published: Thursday 15th January 2015 by The News Editor

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