33 2 mins 9 yrs

jeremy_forrestJeremy Forrest (30) was a teacher who fell in love with a 15-year old pupil of his and ran away with her to France last year. It seems consensual on both sides. Despite this he was convicted of child abduction, as well as five counts of having sex with a child.

He pleaded guilty, offered no defence and he’s now been sentenced to five and a half years in prison. Needless to say, he won’t ever be back in a classroom.

Apparently he was a good and conscientious teacher. News reports don’t indicate any previous. The girl testified that he went the France with her only because he feared she would otherwise harm herself.

I want to ask you a question, dear reader. Imagine that Forrest is a mate of yours. Imagine he’s an old mate, always a good fella, someone you could rely on, one of the good guys who always stood his round. Then your mate was plastered all over the press, and now he’s been convicted. Would you end your friendship?

It’s easy to demand the hangman or say “chop his bollocks off” when you don’t know him. But what if he’s a mate who you’ve known from school and with whom you’ve shared alot? Would you now regard him as dead? Never see or speak with him again? Would you disown him? I can’t say that I would.

In that position I’d probably visit him and take him for a pint when he’s released.

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  1. And further imagine that your friend was so stupid that he couldn’t wait til the child was of legal age. Which wouldn’t have been that long.

  2. There in lies the problem with the age of consent laws. If he had been 18 then he wouldn’t have been prosecuted (though it technically still would have been a criminal offense). The girl would have been the same age and had the same ability to make a decision. Is the decision for a 15 year old girl more complicated and less easy to understand when her partner is 30 than it is when her partner is 18?

  3. The maths teacher groomed the girl at his Eastbourne school, the court heard.

    If it is Asians doing the grooming then that is a bad thing. If it is a white man then buy him a pint.

  4. This is not the sordid, viciously exploitative event that the gangs were involved in.

    Come on.

  5. This is a tragic event for both the teacher and the girl , perhaps they did love one another and so could be allowed some latitude .
    Can I say the unthinkable …..there but for the Grace of God .

  6. He was stupid. He should have confided in someone more senior. He could have refused to be in a room alone with her. Sexual attraction is very powerful, but a teacher should be aware of the dangers. A 30 year old man and an impressionable 15 year old in a woman’s body.. He should have gone to the senior teachers.
    Having said all that, no I wouldn’t disown him if he were a close friend. Tell him he was a fool and keep the friendship going.

  7. Meanwhile, on another planet real child abuse, – if we are to believe the reports, -is rampant among a certain type of person, ie, celebs, politicians, and many others. One recently received a pitiful sentence for repeatedly abusing children, some as young as nine, his sentence – a pitiful one month for each of his victims.

    The sentence this teacher received makes yet another mockery of our justice system, a system where who you are matters more than the crime committed.

  8. Agree with Agit8ed. He was very stupid, probably quite immature, but doesn’t seem to be evil at all. As her teacher, the age of consent is not relevant (because he is in a position of trust and has a duty to look out for her, not ruin her life) so he could not legally have a consensual relationship with her until she was 18.

    What an idiot. Certainly he behaved disgracefully and I believe the sentence is reasonable as it should recognise his gross breach of trust towards her, her parents, other teachers and staff at the school, and society at large; who should be able to expect more from their teaching staff.

  9. Pete Moore

    If it was your 15 year old daughter would you be so forgiving?

    That said, the sentence seems harsh in the circumstances.

  10. If it was YOUR under-age daughter, Pete, that your bestist friend copulated with, would you “take him for a pint” when he came out?

  11. Peter, Bernard –

    If she was my daughter, he’d do well to stay attached to his bollocks. That wasn’t the question though.

  12. But that should be the question, should it not?

    It’s acceptable behavior or it’s not?

  13. It’s not acceptable behaviour at all imv. But having said that Pete is right. If he has seduced your schoolgirl daughter, he has betrayed the girl and her parents. That is paedophilia.

  14. Should he stay attached to his bollocks? I think most of us would rather frown on his caddish behaviour if she were our daughter. Goes without saying and all that.

    I was interested in how people would react if he was a mate.

  15. ” I think most of us would rather frown on his caddish behaviour if she were our daughter”

    Stronger than that Pete. He was a teacher. As I said earlier teachers are taught about dealing with adolescent schoolgirls. He must have known he was wrong and should have gone for help. It’s bad enough that it happens but for a teacher friend to seduce and take advantage of your daughter is an absolute friendship breaker.

  16. Agit8ed –

    Hang on, let’s back up the bus before it gets confusing.

    I didn’t ask about if he mounted your daughter, and I didn’t ask what you’d do if he was a mate who did so. I asked what you’d do if he was your mate, that’s all.

    Can I be clear: yes, I’d chop his bollocks off if she was my daughter. Mate or no mate. We can take that for granted.

  17. My Goodness!
    I read this morning in the Daily Mail that this chap had tried seducing a number of schoolgirls. That might explain that funny smirk on his face..
    Where’s my tin snips…?
    Once again I reiterate that any mature male teacher would realise that hormones are a’ popping all over the classroom where young lads and girls are present.
    It’s natural. It doesn’t mean you are falling in love with one of your pupils, it just means you are tuned in to all those pheromones. And the way to deal with it is to talk to your colleagues and get a sense of perspective. It’s not wrong to be attracted by a lovely young school girl. It’s wrong to act on those attractions. There is no excuse.

  18. Members of the clergy, of any denomination, have very similar positions of trust as teachers, perhaps even more so, and yet when they misbehave, – usually wih much younger folk, – they just get moved to another parish and never seem to get prison sentence. Of course much might have to do with the gender of the victim.

    As I said earlier, the punishment depends on who you are, who you know, and not on the crime you committed.

    I read today that this teacher, (a word that can mean so many things), had some ‘form’ where mature young ladies were concerned.

  19. Ernest,
    I have worked with adolescent boys and girls. The sexual attraction is always going to be there, but people in positions of trust are taught never to be alone with a vulnerable youngster and to confide in more senior staff if they find themselves “reacting sexually”.
    Sure it’s embarrassing, but it’s a safety valve and a dash of cold water to hear someone putting the thing in perspective b for you. We are all human, but that doesn’t mean we all must succumb.

  20. Agit8ed,

    Of course I agree with your post, but I do have a problem where the clergy are concerned, especially those who have sworn vows of celibacy.

    They have chosen a life of leadership as well as of a disciple, – surely they should be held to the highest standard of morality. After all, are they not also betraying the very theology they have dedicted their lives to?

  21. ” They have chosen a life of leadership as well as of a disciple, – surely they should be held to the highest standard of morality. After all, are they not also betraying the very theology they have dedicted their lives to?”
    Don’t disagree with you Ernest. But celibacy as a condition of priesthood is wrong. I think nearly all the Apostles were married. God designed us to reproduce, comfort and support each other.
    That’s normal.

  22. Agit8ed,

    Whatever your opinion on celibacy is, it is irrelevant, it was a condition of becoming a priest in that particular religion, – no ‘if’s or but’s, nudge, nudge, wink, winks’. – the post requires a purity of thought, word and deed. They preach as much, it is their ‘raison d’etre’.

    They knew it when applying for the post. I assume it was to add a condition that made priesthood appear to be a unique post, and to further encourage a deeper trust of them. Men above worldly desires etc. etc. and little to do with what Apostles may or may not have done.

    Celibacy was one of many such things renounced during the reformation, so potential priests cannot complain of lack of options when choosing to become a priest.

    They accepted the condition on joining, and enjoyed the many benefits that the post was offered by the community. They betrayed themselves, their community and the theology they professed to believe in so deeply, when they abused youngsters, – it isn’t as though they were being seduced by a physically superior being is it, and their very cowardice in that respect deserves the utmost punishment and penitence.

    If men are prepared to sacrifice their lives ‘for a cause’, surely being celibate is a small price to pay for occupying what was once a special position in the community, – it isn’t as though they are politicians is it? where promises are made to be broken and morality is but a word, whose meaning escapes them.

  23. Andfaraway,
    If we are honest all of us have flirted in our minds with all sorts of sexual scenarios. But the whole edifice of a celibate priesthood is unsustainable and unBiblical.
    There is no grounds for it. Everybody is tempted, everybody sins. To deny one’s sexuality and need for companionship just lays you open to more temptation. We can’t condemn a man for falling to temptation, but it would have been better to share the temptations with someone else, and if necessary left the priesthood.
    As St. Paul said, it is better to marry than to burn with desire..

  24. Agit8ed,

    St Paul said that? – nah!

    I agreed that celibacy had nothing to do with the original teachings. So let’s give that excuse a pass.

    My point is that priests have a unique and special role in any community. Those that apply for the priesthood are aware of that fact as anyone.

    As you say, the correct way is to seek advice from superiors or friends, I would question whether that course was acceptable to the hierarchy, and therefore not an acceptable course of action.

    That, as teachers of the ‘Faith’, they should be the most resistant of all of us, to temptation of any kind, is practically a given.

    If such abuse were but a rare instance, I could accept that it happens, but it has proved to be far more common than anyone expected. That it has been treated so lightly by the law and the Church has created further distrust of the Church, at time when it can least afford it.

    That it has been unable to generally pursue the criminality and punishment of child abuse is simply because their recent history on this matter prevents it, they have no credence.

    Likewise for our politicans, their indolence and prevarication in treating this crime does more to encourage it than to dissuade it, – I suppose they would say ‘no’ to Pete’s original question of ‘Would you disown him as a friend!’…

  25. Here y’are Ernest,
    “Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
    Ist letter to the Corinthians, chapter 7.

    It’s quite a frank treatment of sexual relationships in a Christian context. I had forgotten that St Paul was celibate, whereas St Peter and most of the other apostles were married.

    The problem is in any man made organisation that the continuance of that organisation often becomes more important than what it stands for.

    So it may be that the organisational hierarchy will frown on those in the priesthood who find they can’t live the celibate life after all, and instead of supporting the struggling priest, slowly slip into a culture where they hide* the truth of sexual immorality or paedophilia taking place so as to protect the organisation church.

    ” And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness* rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19

    I hope that this new Pope will tackle this issue of immorality in the church head on, and call the church and clergy to repentance.

  26. Agit8ed,

    As ever – “We must protect the system!’ – the motto of the public service sector, – and any other hegemonic organisation.

    All part of the betrayal of the original good intentions.

    How can we believe and have any faith in people or organisations that we cannot trust, especially our Churches – supposedly the supreme source of all things good – in the moral sense!

  27. Ernest,
    Do you remember that old Dirk Bogarde film with John Mills, “The Singer, not the Song”?
    Same principle.

  28. No, I wasn’t a great cinema go’er in those days, but I did read the Wiki screed on the plot etc. and yes it did rather capture the gist of our chat.

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