Blackpool drama teacher denies grooming pupil for sex

A female drama teacher gave one of her teenage pupils alcohol as she "groomed" her for sex, a court has been told.

Caroline French, 38, from Darlington, is accused of targeting one of her form pupils when she was a teacher at a secondary school in Blackpool.

A jury at Preston Crown Court heard Ms French began a relationship with the girl when she stepped in to stop her from being bullied at the age of 13.

The teacher denies indecent assault and indecency with a child.

Lifts home

She claims she is not gay and her former pupil is lying.

The court heard the alleged offences took place between September 2002 and April 2004.

Richard Howarth, for the prosecution, said it had started with Ms French giving the girl her landline telephone number following the bullying.

The pair then began communicating online and Ms French started giving the alleged victim lifts home from school.

Mr Howarth said the relationship had then developed further, with the girl staying at the defendant's home when she was having problems at home.

He said: "The Crown say the defendant plied, or certainly gave, the complainant alcohol, usually in the form of Budweiser lager and also from time to time bought her cigarettes."

'Felt trapped'

Mr Howarth said it was at this time - when the complainant was aged 14 - that they had had a "French-type" kiss while at the defendant's home.

The relationship finished when the complainant was 17, the jury was told.

Jurors also watched a police video interview with the alleged victim who claimed that she had felt "trapped" by her teacher and that the whole situation had made her feel "sick".

The case was adjourned until Tuesday.

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