Teacher who groomed teen pupil spared jail

A SUFFOLK teacher at a private girls' school who sexually groomed one of his teenage pupils after she developed a crush on him was spared jail today.

A SUFFOLK teacher at a private girls' school who sexually groomed one of his teenage pupils after she developed a crush on him was spared jail today.

A judge said John Cope, 44, failed to exercise "absolute control" by trading flirty text messages and chatting online and on the phone with the girl.

At the time, Cope, of Stow Road in Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, worked as a supply IT teacher at Brighton and Hove High School in East Sussex.

During a four-day trial at Lewes Crown Court last December, jurors heard their topics included oral sex, the loss of Cope's virginity at the age of 15 and flavoured condoms.


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Cope was convicted of sexual grooming but cleared of two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity between January and May 2008.

Sentencing him to a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, Judge Michael Lawson QC said: “You have done damage to that child, you have done damage to that family who can ill afford to have the extra problems associated with your selfish behaviour.'”

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Cope, who gained an IT degree from Anglia Polytechnic University and an MBA from the University of Brighton, said in his defence that he only wanted to help the girl through a troubled phase and denied planning to groom her as a future sexual partner.

He said he could offer no explanation why he exchanged risque text messages with her, but admitted he should have cut contact with her sooner.

Jennifer Dempster, defending, said Cope "genuinely regrets' his behaviour but claimed that the girl "did the running in every sense', which the judge dismissed.

Cope was also ordered to attend a sex offenders programme, will be electronically monitored with a curfew, ordered to pay costs of �1,000 and made the subject of a 10-year sexual offences prevention order which bans him from working with children.

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