Febuary 2009

Pervert made girl sit at dunce’s table

A young girl, who complained that she was being assaulted by a pervert teacher was made to sit at a dunce’s table, a court heard.

For the then headmistress of St Anne’s Catholic Primary School, in Keighley, Sister Eugenie, didn’t believe her story or that of another girl, prosecutor Judith Naylor told Bradford Crown Court on Tuesday The girl was made to sit at the dunce’s table by teacher Graham Nichols who this week was finally jailed for three years for indecently assaulting girls at the school, all aged just eight and nine years old.

Bearded Nichols, 62, indecently assaulted five girls at St Anne’s Catholic Primary, in Keighley, where he taught from the 1970s to 1980.

Nichols, of Storr Hill, Wyke, Bradford, had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to ten charges of indecent assault and one of gross indecency with a child.

He was told by Judge James Stewart QC: “You abused your position as a teacher, a position of trust. You were looking after these children who were entitled to look up to you. When one complained, you denied it and had her put in the dunce’s corner.”

A further offence of indecent assault was taken into consideration after another woman came forward to say she had been abused by Nichols at St Columba’s School, in Bradford. Mrs Naylor said Nichols indecently touched the girls as they stood next to him for reading or to have their work marked.

On one occasion he asked one girl to stay behind at lunchtime. He took her to the book corner, asked her to lie on the floor and expose herself and committed a sex act in front of her.

Nichols left St Anne’s and became a supply teacher in the Bradford area.

The offences came to light many years later when one of the victims was taking a child protection course as she trained to be a nursery nurse and thought about what had happened to her.

When he was arrested Nichols, who had no previous convictions, made admissions to police and said he had committed the offences out of curiosity as his knowledge of girls was very limited.

Michael Reeves, representing Nichols, said he was not a predatory paedophile and was suffering from a personality disorder at the time of the offences.

Judge Stewart said the offences were not the most serious, though the act of gross indecency was “nasty.”

He ordered that Nichols register as a sex offender indefinitely and made a Sexual Offences Prevention Order to stop him having unsupervised contact with children under 16.

After the case, Det Sgt Stephen Hanson, of West Yorkshire Police’s Child and Public Protection Unit, said: “Primary school years are supposed to be the happiest of a person’s life, but these women have been traumatised by the actions of Nichols.

“We would like to commend the bravery of the ladies who have come forward to help us bring Nichols to justice.”