Sussex

Christ's Hospital abuse accused 'used alternative therapy'

Ajaz Karim Image copyright PA
Image caption Ajaz Karim said his relationship with pupils was "friendship"

A sports coach accused of indecently assaulting pupils at a private school told a court there was nothing sexual in his actions as he was using a specialist sports injury technique.

Brighton Crown Court heard Ajaz Karim, 63, of Hammersmith, denies the 10 charges against him.

He said he practised an alternative therapy on pupils at Christ's Hospital School called the Bowen technique.

"There was absolutely not anything sexual," he said.

Mr Karim, of Baron's Court Road, denies nine indecent assaults and one attempted indecent assault against six girls aged 14 to 18 between 1985 and 1993.

He told the jury: "My relationship with the girls and boys was one of friendship. I wanted to treat them like young adults. I was approachable.

"Teachers at Christ's Hospital were like gods. You really could not approach them.

"There was a saying, if Mr Karim teases you that means he likes you."

Former headmaster Richard Poulton has told the court Mr Karim was a Christ's Hospital "success story" because he arrived as a refugee, went on to be educated at the Horsham school on a scholarship and later returned as staff.

Mr Karim described how President Idi Amin expelled Asians from Uganda in 1972 and his family arrived in the UK, adding: "We had lost everything."

The court has heard claims he had unnecessary contact with students including giving one a massage while she was virtually naked and pushing another against a wall and kissing her.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Karim was educated at the school and later returned as staff

Giving evidence, Mr Karim said he carried out some one-to-one sessions to teach students breathing exercises and on occasion would touch their shoulders with his thumbs or pressed on their lower backs.

He said he never touched them while they were naked or gave them massages.

Mr Karim also denied locking students in his study and claimed never to have known one of the complainants.

He said he did not recall some of the alleged incidents as it was a long time ago.

The court heard he was warned by the headmaster in 1990 not to talk to the girls when they were on their own and he "unfortunately" disobeyed this when he spoke to an alleged victim because he felt she needed help.

He said the situation then became difficult because he felt he was "treated like a criminal", adding: "It broke my relationship with a wonderful headmaster. I really don't know why I did that."

The trial continues.

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