The court heard the man had been spoken to about his conduct around students (ABC News: Tristan Hooft)
A teacher accused of indecent dealings with four girls at a Palmerston school considered himself “bulletproof” and “exploited his status” to developed inappropriate relationships with his young victims, the NT Supreme Court has heard.
The man, who cannot be identified, is charged with eight counts of indecently dealing with children and one count of sexually assaulting a child over a period of three years between 2013 and 2016.
The four girls were aged between 10 and 12 years old at the time.
The court heard the alleged offences varied in seriousness, but included kissing students on the mouth, pulling down a girl’s shorts, making a girl sit on him and “other touching”.
Crown prosecutors told the court the man was a popular teacher, adored by students and parents.
“Because of his status, he was able to develop a connection with his young victims that he was able to exploit in order to engage in the offensive conduct for which he is charged,” prosecutor John Ibbotson said.
The court heard the man had been spoken to about his conduct around students, after several teachers observed unusual behaviour between the accused and one of his students — who would later come forward as the main victim — at a school camp.
Mr Ibbotson told the court the man was “testing out the waters with a lower level of conduct with a sexual intent” with his earlier victims, but his alleged offending with two complainants increased in seriousness because the inappropriate conduct was over an extended period of time.
The court heard he kept students in his classroom during breaks, and progressively isolated one girl from her peers, using her “bad behaviour to cloak his offending”.
The crown said the man used social media to contact his students.
The court was told one of the victims’ mothers would give evidence about observing messages, in which the accused said “he missed her” and gave her instructions to delete the messages as “I could get in trouble for talking to you”.
Some of the allegations only surfaced and were reported to police after a letter was sent home to parents about the allegations levelled at the teacher.
The accused man’s lawyer Giles O’Brien-Hartcher said the allegations were not true and “unfortunately children do lie”.
He said the crown was relying on the premise that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”.
The case is set down for three weeks.