Sussex

Christ's Hospital School ex-sports coach jailed for sex abuse

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

A sports teacher at a private school has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for sexually abusing female students.

Ajaz Karim, 63, from Hammersmith, west London, was convicted of nine charges of indecent assault at Christ's Hospital School in Horsham.

Hove Crown Court was told he abused six girls aged 14 to 18 between 1985 and 1993.

He was also found guilty at an earlier hearing of one count of attempted indecent assault.

He is one of a number of teaching staff at the West Sussex school who have been convicted of sexually abusing students.

Karim had claimed during the trial his relationship "with the girls and boys was one of friendship".

But the court was told he gave one student a massage while she was virtually naked and pushed another against a wall and kissed her.

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

Judge Christine Henson said Karim displayed a "complete disregard" and "continued arrogance" towards his victims, adding: "I'm in no doubt that you used your popularity as a teacher to groom your victims.

"They should have been safe and secure, sadly they were not.

"You have betrayed everything a teacher should stand for."

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

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

Teachers never reported him to the police and he was initially allowed to carry on working, even with the girls in question.

'Hugely traumatic'

Reading a victim's statement, Oliver Dunkin, prosecuting, said the victim was "deeply disappointed" with the school's handling of the incidents, which made it "hugely traumatic".

"For 32 years I have lived with the deeply buried memory of events that took place with Mr Karim," the statement read.

"Until recently I believed the impact had been minimal and I got on and lived my life."

An NSPCC spokeswoman said Karim displayed a "shocking breach of trust".

She added: "We hope today's sentencing provides some sort of closure for those cruelly targeted by Karim."

Karim was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.

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