Bristol

Pupil sex teacher Simon Parsons jailed over Thornbury school relationship

Simon Parsons Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption Simon Parsons was arrested in April 2014, years after his relationship with the student ended

A 52-year-old teacher who admitted having sex with his 17-year-old drama student has been jailed for 12 months.

Simon Parsons, who taught drama, pleaded guilty in November to five counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust.

His trial at Bristol Crown Court heard Parsons admitted exploiting the pupil and accepted the relationship was "amoral and inappropriate".

The court heard he fathered a child with her after she left the school.

'Massive mistake'

Parsons, of Uley Road, Dursley, Gloucestershire, taught for more than 30 years at Castle School in Thornbury.

During the trial, a statement from his wife was read out which said: "He is not a monster, he is a gentle man who made a massive mistake."

Parsons had sex with the pupil over a period of five years but his wife "bore" the affair and he returned to his family after the girl ended the relationship in her early 20s, the court heard.

The girl's family urged her to tell the police in a bid to protect other pupils.

Prosecuting, James Ward said: "This relationship began in a way normal relationships do.

"The sex was consensual but illegal because teachers cannot have sex with schoolchildren.

"She acknowledges that she had a crush on the defendant and she thought that it maybe was her fault that it happened."

'Constantly humiliated'

In a statement, the girl said: "I felt grossed out at one point and then I thought 'Oh well, he fancies me'."

Representing Parsons, David Scutt said his client was a "committed teacher".

Parsons was arrested in April 2014, years after the relationship ended.

"He accepts the relationship was amoral and inappropriate. He had her trust as a teacher, he breached it," said Mr Scutt.

"He is able to recognise that he was exploiting a young female pupil. He put his needs in front of those of his family."

'Allowed to continue'

He said Parsons' career had gone and he "had lost his self-esteem and feels constantly humiliated".

The girl's mother, who cannot be identified, said she was "angry" it was allowed to happen.

"The school hadn't been the safe haven it should have been," she said.

She said she went to tell the head teacher her daughter had had a child by the teacher, because she was "concerned for other students".

"The school did nothing. That man was allowed to continue teaching for another three years," she added.

Following the sentencing, the school sent a letter to parents saying it took the safety of its students "very seriously".

In it head teacher Peter Smart and chairman of governors Chris White-Horne said the school was "not aware that an inappropriate relationship existed" when the girl was a student at the school.

"Abuse of the position of trust between teacher and student is completely unacceptable and we unreservedly condemn Mr Parsons' actions," the statement said.

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