Sex abuse cases teacher in report

Former teacher Jonathan O'Brien will be sentenced in February.

Former teacher Jonathan O'Brien will be sentenced in February.

First published in News Kidderminster Shuttle: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE case of a former Chaddesley Corbett independent school teacher convicted of sex crimes against children in the 1980s has been highlighted in a report into abuse.

Winterfold House School appears in a list compiled by The Times newspaper following analysis of past crimes, scandals and police investigations at 130 independent schools. The report reveals a significant surge in criminal prosecutions since 2012, for offences that happened several years ago.

Last month, former teacher Jonathan O'Brien was found guilty of sexually abusing pupils in his care during the 1980s - including five charges of gross indecency and 15 counts of indecent assault, all of which he had denied and he was cleared of two further indecent assaults. He is due to be sentenced on February 7.

Twelve of the offences were committed against seven boys at Winterfold House School - where he taught subjects including sports and photography - between 1980 and 1985 and the others were committed against three pupils at The Oratory School, near Reading, between 1985 and 1989.

The newspaper's report says in the past 20 years one or more men who taught at 62 independent schools across the country had been convicted of sex crimes against 277 male pupils. Prosecutions involving 18 of those 62 schools came to court in the past two years.

It adds Keir Starmer QC who, until last year, was director of public prosecutions, said the list would strengthen the case for a mandatory requirement for schools to report all suspected abuse.

A statement from the Independent Schools Council said: "The safety and welfare of young people is the first and most important responsibility of our schools. The abuse of trust by a small number of predatory individuals is a matter of the very deepest regret.

"While these cases are largely historic, this does not in any way lessen the anguish felt by the innocent victims.

"Over the last 20 years independent schools have taken a key and active part in developing the present stringent regulatory regime, including detailed safeguarding procedures and regular inspection. Safeguarding now has the absolute primacy in our schools, which it so obviously deserves.”

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