July 2020

Drama teacher jailed for a string of child sexual offences 

A former drama teacher has been jailed for a string of child sexual offences after grooming one of her talented pupils into sexual activity

Kim Connor began teaching the girl at a performing arts school when she was just nine-years-old.

But by the time she was 15, the girl was staying the night at Connor’s home as the teacher encouraged sexual activity to develop, leading to the pair going to restaurants, attending West End shows and even going on holiday together when the pupil was just 16.

The 46-year-old mum-of-two was sentenced to nine months in prison at Manchester Minshull Street

She was also put on the sex offenders register.

Her victim ­— who cannot be named for legal reasons ­— said that Connor had ‘taken the best years of my life’, leaving her battling with mental health problems.

Judge John Edwards described Connor’s crimes as a ‘gross abuse of trust’ at a vulnerable period in her victim’s life.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard how, as well as teaching the girl, Connor also gave her victim private tuition at her home between the ages of 10 and 14.

When the girl was aged 14, the two shared a hugs and a ‘peck on the lips’, which were repeated on several occasions, Darren Preston, prosecuting, said.

By the time her victim turned 15, the two were said to share ‘kisses with open mouths’, and their touching became ‘more sexual’ ­— including touching each other over their clothes in intimate areas.

After the girl turned 16, the pair’s relationship was said to have become sexual and the victim would stay over at Connor’s home.

During a week-long trial earlier this year the court further heard that the girl ‘adored’ Connor, and was ‘enthralled’ and ‘besotted’ by her.

Connor, who was suspended from her job as head of performing arts at St Monica’s RC High School in Prestwich when the allegations came to light, was also said to have become close with the girl’s parents who grew to trust her.

However, Mr Preston told the court that when in public Connor would push the girl away and never allow her to show any affection.

The pair’s relationship was said to have come to an end when the girl was around 20-years-old.

In victim impact statement, the victim told the court that her ‘love for life has vanished’ and her ‘dreams and aspirations of theatre have been tarnished’.

“What Kim Connor did affected me for years,” she said, adding: “She told me to keep the relationship a secret, not through excitement, but because it was wrong.”

This, she said, had caused her to suffer from depression and mental health problems from the age of 15, and had led to her enter and endure an abusive relationship later in life.

The victim told the court that she had been inspired to speak out about what had happened to her by the Me Too movement.

“If I had known that speaking to someone would have led me to become the strong, independent, anxiety free person I am today, I would have done it sooner,” she added.

Mr Preston said: “It is the prosecution’s case that, while the the defendant never did anything that her victim did not consent to, this was an abusive relationship as the defendant was in a position of authority and was her teacher.”

Moreover he added the crimes were aggravated by the fact that the victim was vulnerable due to her age and confusion about her sexuality.

At an earlier court hearing, Connor, of Blyton Lane, Salford, was found guilty of three counts of engagement in sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust, and three counts of inciting a child to commit sex acts by a person in a position of trust..

Judge Edwards also noted that Connor was of good character, and an ‘inspirational and devoted teacher for almost a quarter of a century’.

However, he added that Connor had caused “damage to a young woman who was confident and in your thrall in equal measure.

“This was an abusive relationship and young people in situations like this can been damaged in many ways.

“You should have taken steps to distance yourself from your victim rather than encouraging her.”