Teacher denies making move on pupil

A TEACHER at a Suffolk boarding school accused of kissing a student has denied abusing his position of trust and “crossing the pupil/ teacher line”.

A TEACHER at a Suffolk boarding school accused of kissing a student has denied abusing his position of trust and “crossing the pupil/ teacher line”.

Stuart Barley admitted sending the teenage girl emails that in hindsight he would not have sent but denied that he had flirted with her in an attempt to “move the relationship on”.

Barley, 45, has denied two offences of abusing a position of trust by having sexual activity with a child under 18. The school or the alleged victim cannot be named for legal reasons.

It has been alleged that the father-of two exchanged flirtatious text messages and emails with the girl and on Valentine's Day sent her a text saying “This is your free hugs and kisses voucher valid for two weeks”.

Barley, who was described as a “well regarded and popular teacher” also hid the girl's favourite sweets around her room and at school parties gave her extra glasses of wine, it was alleged.

David Wilson, prosecuting claimed that Barley became infatuated with the girl and on two occasions kissed her on the lips. The first alleged incident happened one evening when the girl went to his office to collect a memory stick she had lent him and the other happened ten days later when he allegedly followed to her room her after she had been drinking at a school party.

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Giving evidence yesterday on the second day of his trial Barley told the court he had been a teacher for 24 years and taught biology and sport.

He said he had got on well with the alleged victim and had a good relationship with her.

He said he had regularly sent her and other pupils emails and text messages to arrange tutorial meetings and the fact that he put kisses on the end of messages to her had no special significance. “People do this all the time and it is meaningless,” he said.

He claimed that on the occasion the girl went to his office to collect the memory stick she had lent him he had kissed her on the cheek to say thank-you.

He said that afterwards he had thought “perhaps I shouldn't have done that” and had apologised to her. “I may have sent her a text later that day or spoken to her about it. It was matter closed a far as I was concerned,” he said.

He said ten days later he had been serving behind the bar at a school fancy dress party and had given the alleged victim an extra glass of wine after someone left it on the bar.

He said during the evening there had been an incident between the alleged victim and another girl after the alleged victim was seen dancing with another pupil's boyfriend.

At the end of the party the alleged victim had complained of injuring her foot and Barley had followed her upstairs to her room to check she was all right.

He said the girl had been upset and he had given her a “reassuring hug”.

At that point he became aware of another pupil standing in the doorway and heard her say “I caught you. Well, well, well.”

Barley said he made some reference to it being a mistake but denied telling the pupil's boyfriend that she had caught him kissing the alleged victim.

Barley admitted that he had been “panicking inside” and that he had pointed out to the girl and her boyfriend everything he had to lose if she reported what she thought she had seen.

Cross-examined by Mr Wilson, Barley accepted that as an experienced teacher he was aware of “what boundaries are appropriate and what are inappropriate” and was aware of not crossing the line as far as pupil/teacher relationships were concerned.

Asked whether he thought kissing a pupil on the lips would be wrong Barley replied: “Definitely yes”.

Asked by Mr Wilson if he was aware it would be criminal behaviour Barley replied “Yes”.

Barley accepted that he had a close relationship with the alleged victim and said it was common knowledge amongst pupils at the school that she liked him.

He denied that he had “crossed the pupil/teacher line” and also denied finding the alleged victim sexually attractive.

Barley denied sending the girl a text on Valentine's Day saying “This is your free hugs and kisses voucher valid for two weeks” but said he did give her a home-made voucher entitling her to “hugs and Skittles” which were her favourite sweets.

Asked by Mr Wilson: “You were flirting with her and wanted to move the relationship on,” Barley replied “No”.

He also said the alleged victim was wrong when she told the court he had told her he liked her hair and liked to think of her washing her hair in the shower.

Defence witness Simon Matthews told the court that he knew Barley as a colleague and a friend and described him as a popular teacher who was good natured and good humoured.

He said he had been “shocked and surprised” when he was told of the allegations that had been made against Barley.

Barley is expected to continue giving his evidence today .

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