Sussex

Christ's Hospital School sports coach guilty of indecent assaults

Ajaz Karim Image copyright PA
Image caption Ajaz Karim described his relationship with pupils as "friendship"

A sports coach at a private school has been found guilty of nine counts of indecent assault against female pupils.

Ajaz Karim, 63, from Hammersmith, west London, was also found guilty of one count of attempted indecent assault.

He sexually abused six girls, aged 14 to 18, while he worked at Christ's Hospital School, in Horsham, West Sussex, between 1985 and 1993.

He was remanded in custody at Brighton Crown Court and will be sentenced on a date yet to be decided.

Judge Christine Henson QC warned Karim, of Baron's Court Road, he would face a lengthy prison sentence.

He is the school's third former teacher to be convicted of sexual abuse.

'Nothing sexual'

The court heard claims he gave one student a massage while she was virtually naked and pushed another against a wall and kissed her.

Karim said he practised an alternative therapy on pupils called the Bowen Technique and was teaching the students breathing exercises to help when playing sports.

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

However, during cross-examination, he admitted he had no qualifications for the practice.

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

He told the jury during his trial his relationship "with the girls and boys was one of friendship".

Karim said he carried out some one-to-one breathing sessions with students and on occasion would touch their shoulders with his thumbs or press on their lower backs.

He said he never touched them while they were naked or gave them massages, and also denied locking students in his study.

One of his victims told how he was laughing as she ran away after he tried to "snog her".

Another said Karim spread rumours about her after she complained and the experience had forced her to write off a large "chunk" of her life.

Karim denied the 10 charges, and branded his victims liars.

He left the school after complaints from four pupils surfaced between 1990 and 1993.

'Deeply sorry'

Senior staff came under fire from the victims over the way they handled the allegations.

Simon Reid, the school's current head teacher, said: "We are deeply sorry that the offences committed by Ajaz Karim almost 30 years ago occurred here at Christ's Hospital."

He said the school's safeguarding policy had been improved since the time of the offences and that "any allegations arising now would be dealt with in a very different way".

Det Con Rebecca Wilde, of Sussex Police, added that it was clear Karim had "used his position as a member of staff and his role as a sports teacher to use massage as a subterfuge for sexual touching".

Judge Henson said Karim would not be sentenced before 23 July.

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