http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/judge-jails-teacher-over-despicable-assault/2007/09/17/1189881440592.html

Judge jails teacher over ‘despicable’ assault

Kate Hagan
September 18, 2007

A 39-YEAR-OLD teacher who indecently assaulted a 14-year-old student has been sentenced to two years’ prison.

Paul Robertson, a father of three from Mount Dandenong, was sentenced in the County Court yesterday after a jury found him guilty of two counts of committing an indecent act with a child under the age of 16.

Judge Lance Pilgrim said Robertson had a one-year contract teaching maths and science at a high school in Melbourne’s outer east in 2000 when he befriended the girl.

The girl was facing “enormous personal difficulties” including being bullied at school and not being provided with adequate food and clothing at home, he said.

Judge Pilgrim said that around August Robertson asked the girl not to attend class but to meet him at a nearby park so they could spend time together.

During the trial, the girl told the court they were sitting on a log when Robertson “pulled me onto his knee and tried to kiss me and I freaked out.

“He put his hand up my polo shirt and rubbed his hands on my belly and commented on how little I was.”

Judge Pilgrim said in another incident, Robertson took the girl on a picnic during the school holidays and put his hand down her pants. The girl told the court she was uncomfortable but did not stop Robertson from touching her “because I wanted him to like me”.

She skipped Robertson’s class during the final term or played up so she would be asked to leave in a bid to avoid him, the court heard. Robertson wrote the girl two love letters, which he told her to destroy, expressing his desire to spend time and be naked with her.

Judge Pilgrim said the girl was “desperate” for Robertson’s support and friendship and he had behaved in a “despicable manner” by taking advantage of her.

“You have disgraced yourself and the teaching profession.”

Judge Pilgrim said Robertson was suspended from his position working with disabled children at the Department of Human Services after charges were laid in 2005 and his career was now “unequivocally in tatters”.

Caring for his sick wife and three children, aged one to five years, had since been a “lifeline” for Robertson, who had tried to harm himself, the court heard.

Robertson will serve a minimum of four months before being eligible for parole.

 

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