Supply teacher accused of grooming pupil

A TEACHER at a private all-girls school sexually groomed one of his teenage pupils after she developed a crush on him, a court has heard.

A TEACHER at a private all-girls school sexually groomed one of his teenage pupils after she developed a crush on him, a court has heard.

IT supply teacher John Cope, 44, from Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, guessed it was him the girl was referring to when she confided in him that she "fancied someone she shouldn't".

Instead of behaving responsibly, he actively encouraged her and told the girl, who cannot be named, that he felt the same way about her, a jury heard.

Cope gave the girl his mobile phone number, which she stored under the name Fred, and told her to delete any texts he sent her, Lewes Crown Court was told.


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Prosecutor Jonathan Davies said they exchanged messages and chatted online and on the phone while he was employed through an agency as a teacher at Brighton and Hove High School in East Sussex.

Mr Davies said: "The prosecution says that John Cope abused the trust placed in him to form a relationship with the girl which he intended would lead to sexual activity between them.

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"In fact, due to the timely intervention of the girl's parents, there wasn't any sexual activity between them.

"Nevertheless, we say that the defendant groomed her for that purpose - for sexual activity and incited her for sexual activity with him.'

Mr Davies told the jury that matters came to a head when the girl's mother heard a text message sent to her daughter's mobile phone while she slept.

"Fortuitously, the mother looked at the text to see who was texting her daughter at that time of night,' he said. "She was shocked by what she read and she took it to her husband.

"They looked at the girl's phone and were troubled by what they saw, and they woke the girl and asked her about the text. To begin with she identified Fred as a boy she had met in Essex.'

The next day, following further inquiries, her parents continued to analyse the text and were able to work out that Fred was a teacher at her school, he added.

Police were alerted and both Cope and the girl's phones were analysed. Mr Davies said it was clear from the nature of the texts that he intended to groom her as a future sexual partner.

In one text, the girl told Cope about the need for her to lose weight, to which he allegedly replied that "we can find another way for you to burn calories'.

In another text the teenager is said to have asked Cope whether he still feels the same way about her. He allegedly replied: "Of course, don't be silly. Remember that I said it would be hard sometimes.'

In interview, the girl told police that Cope suggested going back to his flat to have sex and he spoke about her being naked lying next to him.

Cope, of Stow Road, denies sexual grooming and two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity between January last year and May last year.

The trial, which is due to last five days, continues tomorrow.

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