January 2019

Teacher banned after sex with underage pupil

A teacher who had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old pupil has been banned from teaching indefinitely.

Suzanne Harrison, 46, committed a series of sexual offences against a 15-year-old girl while teaching at a Essex school (Colchester) between December 2005 and July 2006.

The geography teacher was arrested in 2011 and, after appearing at Ipswich Crown Court later the same year, was detained under the Mental Health Act and made to sign the sex offenders’ register for seven years.

Now, almost eight years later, the Teaching Regulation Authority (TRA) has banned her from teaching indefinitely.

A disciplinary panel heard the sexual relationship with the 15-year-old (Pupil A) began at Ms Harrison’s home in January 2006, in the absence of the pupil’s parents.

The pair continued to meet for four years, after which Pupil A disclosed the details of the relationship to Ms Harrison’s then partner (Person B).

Ms Harrison was subsequently arrested in 2011.

The teacher pleaded guilty to four sex offences against a 15-year-old girl at Ipswich Crown Court later that year.

They included two charges of sexually touching a female under 16, one count of sexual touching involving penetration and a charge of engaging in sexual activity with a female under 16 while in a position of trust between December 1, 2005, and July 31, 2006.

Judge Peter Thompson made an order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act for the then 38-year-old, who was living at Rendlesham at the time, to be treated by mental health professionals – with no upper time limit on her detention.

The disciplinary panel heard Ms Harrison’s behaviour was deliberate and involved “the most severe breach of boundaries”.

Examining the case, the TRA report stated: “Whilst there is no evidence of an effect on the wellbeing of the pupil, Pupil A was brought into a sexual relationship at an age where by law and for her own protection that relationship was criminalised.”

The panel also heard Ms Harrison had a “previously good history” and had expressed remorse for her actions, but the “serious and sustained” nature of the offences outweighed any mitigating factors.

Decision maker Dawn Dandy, acting for the Secretary of State, concluded that the 46-year-old should be banned from teaching indefinitely – with no provision for a review period.