Saturday, November 18, 2006

Female Teacher Cleared Of Classroom Sex Act

A WOMAN teacher who was filmed on a mobile telephone performing a sex act on a 15-year-old schoolboy was cleared yesterday of having sexual activity with a child.

Rebecca Poole, 26, insisted that the boy had held a screwdriver to her head, grabbed her hair and forced her to give him oral sex at a school drama studio. The jurors, who saw the pupil’s video of the incident, in which he grins at the camera, took just over an hour to deliver their unanimous verdicts.

Mrs Poole, a married mother of one, clasped her hand to her mouth and broke down in tears at Birmingham Crown Court as the verdicts were delivered. She was cleared of three charges of sexual activity with a child and one of abuse of trust.

While Mrs Poole’s father turned to the jurors to thank them, the boy’s family sat in the public gallery looking dismayed. Speaking outside the court, with her husband, Dacey, at her side, Mrs Poole said: “I’m ecstatic.”

The verdicts bring to an end a week-long trial that has set the schoolteacher’s word against her pupil’s claim that they were embroiled in a passionate three-month relationship last year. They were even said to have had sex in her husband’s Porsche.

The pupil, now 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed that he would meet Mrs Poole, the head of his school’s drama department, after her weekly Spanish lesson, the only time that they could conduct the affair without her husband finding out.

She was arrested in October last year when the boy’s parents found the explicit video on his mobile phone.

Mrs Poole, from Hollywood, Worcestershire, wept as she told the court that the youth — whom she had earlier lent £100 so that he could pay off a drug dealer from whom he had stolen a bag of cannabis — had held a screwdriver to the back of her head during the attack. Describing how she felt when she saw the footage, she said: “It is a video clip of me being sexually assaulted and I felt sick that he would want to video that and brag about it.”

She said that she feared she could have been raped.

Her testimony contrasted sharply with her pupil’s evidence, in which he said that he had “a pretty good time” during what he said was his first “proper” sexual experience, days before his 16th birthday.

Mrs Poole said that she had been indecently assaulted six times by pupils at Lordswood Boys’ School in Harbone, Birmingham. Although she had reported the other attacks, she had not reported this incident because she feared that it would ruin her career. She denied performing oral sex on the boy during the first five police interviews. She confirmed what had happened only when police said that they had a video film of the act.

Mrs Poole has said that she will never work as a teacher again.

Andrea Jones, Mrs Poole’s solicitor, said: “She is extremely grateful to the jury for their careful consideration of all the evidence in this case. It has been a very difficult 12 months since her arrest.

“She very much wants to thank her family and friends for their unwavering support. In particular she would like to thank her husband. She is now very tired and would now like to spend time with her husband and her ten-week-old baby.”

Mrs Warman said that Mrs Poole would not be pressing charges against the boy. She said: “My instructions are not to pursue this further. The incident is closed as far as Mrs Poole is concerned.

“It is not that it didn’t happen, but closure is a very good thing for all parties.”

It is understood that West Midlands Police do not intend to pursue Mrs Poole’s allegations of sexual assault.

Mrs Poole obtained her teaching qualification in drama and English at the University of Central England. Part of her coursework involved a placement at Lordswood Boys’ School, where she later began a full-time job.

Birmingham City Council, the local education authority, said that Mrs Poole remained suspended from her job while a full internal inquiry was being carried out.

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