Former head admits being a paedophile
A former headmaster accused of assaulting and sexually abusing schoolboys at two East Anglian schools yesterday admitted that he was a paedophile.
Derek Slade told a jury that there was a sexual motive behind his “excessive” smackings, canings, slipperings, and beatings of boys at St George’s School, Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, in the late 1970s and early 80s.
The 61-year-old yesterday conceded that he went beyond what was reasonable corporal punishment and feared that he had caused long-lasting physiological harm to pupils who attended the boarding school he formed in Wicklewood, near Wymondham, Norfolk, and later at Great Finborough.
The former headmaster, who is accused of a catalogue of abuse during his reign between 1978-83, accepted that he went too far during corporal punishment sessions in which he rubbed students’ bare buttocks afterwards. But he denied being involved in inviting children to his private quarters for “midnight feasts” and allegations of more serious sexual assaults.
Slade admitted to the court that he believed in corporal punishment at the time, which was stated in the school prospectus, but there had been a sexual motive behind his punishments and the detention essays he set entitled “Whackings I have had”.
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Ipswich Crown Court heard that he had kept the essays, which were seized when police raided his home in Burton-on-Trent last year, and he had also written stories in 2008 about child abuse.
When asked by the prosecution whether he considered himself to be a paedophile, Slade said: “I think I would have to accept that description. Having had these put all before me and considered what I have done and having looked at the things I have produced, I have no choice but to believe those were my motivation.”
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The court heard that St George’s School operated a stars and stripes disciplinary system whereby pupils were awarded stars for good behaviour and stripes if they broke the rules.
Slade said boys would be called to his office for corporal punishment if they received six or more stripes in a week and would use his hand, slipper sole, cane, or jokari bat, depending on their age and severity of their perceived misdemeanour.
“I certainly would accept that there were occasions when corporal punishment resulted in bruising. At the time I persuaded myself that what I was doing was legitimate in the context of corporal punishment. I separated off the improper motive.”
“It is totally and completely wrong. I believed at the time I was not doing anything unlawful and I now see that is wrong,” he said.
When asked why he kept school records like the detention essays, he added: “I have already admitted I had a sexual interest in them. I do keep things; I am a hoarder, but they had an additional motive in this case.”
But he added that he drew a line between corporal punishment and sexual abuse. He added that he believed the atmosphere of the school, for children of Armed Forces families, to be “generally very happy”.
Slade has denied six counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, five counts of indecent assault, and four counts of serious sexual assault. He has admitted 15 counts of indecent assault and four counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The trial continues.