April 2018

Former Weymouth swimming teacher jailed for child sexual abuse

A former swimming teacher who carried out sexual assaults on young girls over a number of years has been jailed for six years.

Michael Chapman, 82, was found guilty of ten offences of indecent assault on a child which he carried out in the 1980s and 90s.

Chapman, of Seven Acres Road in Preston, Weymouth, denied the charges but was found guilty following a trial at Bournemouth Crown Court in February.

Between 1981 and 1993, Chapman abused two female victims – who were as young as 11 when the assaults started – while he was a swimming coach with the Thornlow Tornadoes team. The abuse carried on until the victims were in their teens.

The court heard that Chapman would touch the victims inappropriately in his car while he gave them lifts to swimming lessons, and while they were in their swimming costumes. He would also send them Valentine’s cards.

At Chapman’s sentencing in Bournemouth Crown Court on Monday, one of the victims addressed him with her victim impact statement.

She said: “When I met Michael I was 11 years old. I was an extremely vulnerable child and I came from a home which was not safe. The abuse carried on until I was 15.

“This has had a spiral effect which has woven itself through all the relationships in my life. I could not love my own children. The fact that something which happened to me as a child had such a damaging effect on my relationship with my children caused me great pain.

“The only way I could see to escape the overwhelming pain I was in was to take my own life.

“By not coming forward I would have been complicit in the walls of silence which let sexual abuse continue. I don’t want to live in a community where being sexually assaulted is seen as part of life.”

Chapman hung his head while the victim spoke.

On sentencing Chapman, Judge Peter Johnson said: “You touched these girls in a place where they should have been safe.

“Their parents trusted you, and the children trusted you too. This was a gross and grotesque abuse of that trust.

“They carry the burden of what you did to them, you ruined their childhood.

“You demonstrate absolutely no remorse whatsoever. The only sorry you feel is for the position you find yourself in.”

Chapman was sentenced to a total of two years in jail for his assaults on one victim, and four years for his assaults on the second victim, to run consecutively. He will be listed on the sex offenders register for life.