Teacher on trial for indecent assault of three students

The trial began this week of a John Gray High School teacher who has pleaded not guilty to three charges of indecently assaulting three female students.

After a jury of six men and one woman was chosen Monday, Crown counsel Toyin Salako opened the prosecution’s case on Tuesday.

She explained that jurors would see each girl’s video interview and then the girl would answer questions while sitting in the witness box, with a screen between her and the dock where the defendant sat. She emphasized that this arrangement was not to be held against the defendant because it was the procedure adopted when any child gives evidence in a criminal trial.

Justice Michael Wood said that having a screen in place was standard practice now all over the world for children to give evidence that way.

In order to prove indecent assault, Ms. Salako explained, the Crown has to prove that the touching of the girls as they described it was intentional; that the nature of the touching and the circumstances of it were capable of being considered by right-minded individuals as indecent; that the defendant intended to commit the assault.

The defendant’s case is that he did not have any physical contact with any of the three girls. “In other words,” Ms. Salako summed up, “they have lied – for whatever reason; each of the young girls has made up the allegations.”

The first girl said in her police interview that the touching occurred in the classroom, near the end of class, when she was walking back to her desk after getting papers from a printer. She explained that the teacher walked toward her and inappropriately touched her after placing his hand on her left leg.

After class, she told some friends. After a discussion with them, which she detailed, the witness said they spoke to a school counselor later the same day.

Defense attorney Steve McField began questioning the girl shortly before noon.

The trial continues.