May 2022

Teacher held girl’s bum and kissed her head saying ‘you’re alright with this aren’t you?’

A teacher lifted a girl up by her bottom, kissed her head and said ‘You’re alright with this aren’t you?’.

Adam Hart also told the vulnerable pupil she was ‘addictive’ and that hugging her was ‘infectious’ after she had gone to him for support

The 29-year-old was said to be a relatively new teacher and ‘naïve’ with his behaviour, particularly towards girls, prompting multiple warnings from staff whilst leaving his mentor ‘exasperated’. The victim was left scared by his actions and bravely confided in her parents.

Hart initially denied wrong-doing and a trial, already heavily delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulted in the jury being unable to reach a verdict.

But ahead of a re-trial he changed his plea to guilty to a charge of sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 to 17: adult abuse of a position of trust.

The victim, speaking courageously at his sentencing hearing on Friday, May 20, told of how she struggles to trust men and even stands near windows and doors when speaking to them in case she needs a quick escape.

But she then had to witness Hart, of Elmwood Road, Telford, walk out of court as he was spared prison and handed a three-year community order.

Judge Avik Mukherjee, emphasised that he was bound by legal guidelines and in reality any term of imprisonment would be relatively short.

He stated it would better serve the public interest and would be more ‘constructive’ for the probation service to work with Hart.

Prosecutor Antonie Muller stated the victim initially went to Hart for support over a personal matter. He said: “His response was physical. He hugged her and in that non-sexual way comforted her.

“But that started a process by which Mr Hart began to sexualise the situation between teacher and pupil. He called her addictive and called hugging her infectious to her face.”

He told the court Hart then started giving her things, such as chocolate, before he ‘began hugging her again, held her bottom lifted her up as she faced him saying ‘you’re alright with this aren’t you?’, and kissed her on the head’.

Mr Muller said the incident ‘scared’ the girl who began to avoid Hart, before confiding in her parents. Hart was suspended from the school before being ‘completely removed from teaching’, said the prosecutor who stated his conviction would mean he would never work in that field again.

Mr Muller had cross-examined Hart at the trial about grooming to which he confirmed he had been trained on how to avoid such behaviour, even though he did things like criticise the victim’s boyfriend.

When interviewed by police Hart said he touched the victim’s bottom ‘unintentionally’ while claiming he did not remember kissing her, the court heard. Mr Muller added: “A particular feature is his failure to respond to diligent teachers around him who warned him about his teaching approach. He was a new teacher.

“His mentor was frankly exasperated by his failure to amend his approach, particularly to female pupils. She anticipated this was going to end badly for the victim and his future as a teacher.”

The victim, reading her own impact statement, outlined her ongoing trust issues with males and revealed she suffered with anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The judge ordered Hart to carry out 30 days rehabilitation activity and an accredited sexual offending programme as well as pay £2,500 in costs. Judge Mukherjee said: “Sending you to custody for a very short period wouldn’t be beneficial to the public. They need to be protected from you in the future.

“With that in mind, I want to make it clear I am not passing what I believe to be a lenient sentence. I am passing the most constructive disposal in this case.”

He also imposed a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) and warned any breaches or any further offences during the course of his community order would result in a ‘very bad day’ for Hart.