July 2023

Former religious education teacher sexually assaulted a teenage boy

A “predatory” former religious education teacher sexually assaulted a teenage boy in the 1980s after keeping him back after school.

Donald Hunt was an RE teacher who worked at Rhyddings High School in Oswaldtwistle between 1983 and 1989.

Preston Crown Court heard that between 1987 and 1989 he sexually assaulted a 15 or 16-year-old boy on three occasions after keeping him back to “discuss his work”.

Amanda Johnson, prosecuting, said: “The defendant would keep him back after lessons to ‘discuss his work’ and on one occasion, when in close proximity to his victim, he rubbed himself up against him.

“On another occasion he was standing next to the child and undid the teenager’s flies and began to rub him over his boxer shorts.

“The victim said he recalled feeling scared.

“On the third occasion the defendant told the boy to get a chair and come and sit next to him.

“He unzipped his own flies and said to the victim ‘you know what to do’, before placing the boy’s hand on his groin area.

“The boy pulled away and went home and told his father, but his father refused to believe him.”

Ms Johnson said the offending ended when the teenager told a friend and made him wait outside the classroom the next time he was kept back, and when the defendant went to initiate further contact the victim called out to his friend.

Ms Johnson told the court: “The boy’s friend ran into the classroom and the defendant panicked and stormed out with the boys following him into the car park.

“The defendant could not get away quick enough.”

It was heard the incidents were reported to the headteacher at the time, but they were not acted upon.

Ms Johnson went on: “The victim was told ‘Mr Hunt has a family, are you trying to break the family up?’.

“He also got into trouble for ‘making the whole thing up’ and ‘trying to ruin the teacher’s career’.”

The offences eventually came to light when the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, attended a police station in 2019, as the incidents had been niggling at him for years and had affected his personal life, his relationships, and had resulted in him abusing drugs and alcohol.

He said he had even attempted suicide on a few occasions.

Hunt attended the police station for a voluntary interview and said he could not remember the victim.

He said he experienced difficulty with his memory due to a car accident in 2007, although no medical evidence was provided to the courts to support this.

Married father-of-three, Hunt, now 69, was jailed for nine months in 2006 for indecently assaulting a boy in a storeroom at the same school in 1984.

He was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order at the time, which he later breached in 2012 when work he was doing meant he had contact with schoolchildren.

He was handed a community order for this breach.

Hunt, of Fairfield Street, Accrington, initially pleaded not guilty to three counts of indecent assault with a view of taking the case to trial, but pleaded guilty on the first day of the hearing in May.

Judge Heather Lloyd, sentencing, said: “In the 80s you were a respected RE teacher and with that came the responsibility of not only the education of your students but the safety and wellbeing of your students.

“You used your position to behave in a criminal and predatory way to two boys in your care.

“In 2006 you were sentenced for indecent assault on a student at the same school.

“You said the student lied about what had happened. You told probation you pleaded guilty to that but you were found guilty after trial.

“You must have known when you went to prison for that there was another victim, but you kept quiet, and sure enough, your past has crept up on you.

“When this victim reported what had happened to him he was told he was telling lies. You got away with what you did to him for many years.

“You told him to stay behind for detention and you indecently assaulted him.

“You said you couldn’t remember this pupil but you were able to give a full account of your own life history.

“Even now you do not admit guilt, you simply dispute your guilt.”

Hunt was jailed for 11 months, handed a 10 year sexual harm prevention order and must sign the sex offender’s register for 10 years.

Upon release he will be under post sentence supervision for 12 months.