Woman sexually abused by teacher as pupil at South Tyneside school urges fellow victims to speak out

A woman sexually abused by a teacher when she was a pupil has urged others not to suffer in silence after her legal case was settled more than 30 years since her ordeal.

By Fiona Thompson
Friday, 25th September 2020, 7:00 am

The woman was repeatedly abused while at a South Tyneside primary school in the 1970s and 1980s, with the indecent assaults including smacks and inappropriate touching.

The teacher, who was married with children, was later jailed after pleading guilty to a string of indecent assaults, including those committed against the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The woman, now in her 40s, instructed lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help her access specialist support to overcome her ordeal, leading to a five-figure settlement from South Tyneside Council, which ran the school.

South Tyneside Council said: "safety and wellbeing of our young people is of paramount importance" after agreeing to a five-figure settlement for a woman abused by a teacher when she was a pupil at one of its schools.

She has now spoken of her determination to look to the future and urged other survivors to report abuse.

The attacks included when she was on her own in a locked room and others when she was part of a group of children.

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She said: “What happened all those years ago has stayed with me.

“For years I suffered from low self-esteem and had issues trusting people and forming relationships.

“However, I was determined not to let this man dictate my life anymore.

“I had kept the abuse secret for too long. I just hope that other survivors don’t bottle things up and report what has happened to them as there is help and support out there.”

Emma Crowther, a legal expert at Irwin Mitchell who represents survivors of abuse, said: “Cases like these are a reminder that survivors should not suffer alone.

"They can come forward safe in the knowledge that their concerns will always be handled with the greatest level of sensitivity, no matter how long ago the abuse took place.”

A council spokesman said: "The safety and wellbeing of our young people is of paramount importance and we take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously.

"It is important to note that since these historic crimes were committed the system of checks involved in the employment of teachers has been tightened significantly.

"The council is committed to always learning lessons from victims of abuse who find the courage to talk about their experiences and that way we are better able to safeguard our children and young people.”

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