Sexual abuse of pupils by their teachers is thankfully much less common than it used to be, in large part thanks to perpetrators being publicly brought to book in both the criminal and civil courts. In a case on point, a talented teenager who was preyed upon by her violin teacher was awarded substantial compensation.
The girl was an overseas student at a British music school and was aged between 15 and 16 when the teacher molested her. He was implicitly trusted by the girl's parents, who had appointed him her guardian. Many years after the event, she launched proceedings against the school.
Ruling on the case, the High Court noted that her claim had been lodged far outside the three-year time limit that normally applies to personal injury cases. However, she had put forward cogent and compelling reasons for the delay and the Court found that the balance of justice came down decisively in favour of permitting her to proceed with her case.
The Court found that the teacher had sexually abused her in a practice room at the school, in his car and at his flat. He exploited the opportunities presented to him as her teacher and guardian, initiating and controlling what happened physically and sexually and its escalation to full intercourse.
Ruling the school vicariously liable for the teacher's wrongdoing, the Court found that it did not matter that much of the abuse took place outside the school gates. All of the abuse flowed from his manipulative acts of grooming, committed in a teacher-pupil setting. The school conferred authority on him and the employment relationship gave him both access to the girl and the opportunity to betray his position of trust. The school was ordered to pay her £45,000 in damages, together with her legal costs.