Teacher cleared of sex offence charges

Court case

Court case

A teacher at a South Lincolnshire school accused of sex offences against young girls was on Friday cleared of all charges by a jury at Lincoln Crown Court.

James Sharpe was alleged to have deliberately touched the girls during lessons.

During his trial Sharpe, who taught ICT (information and communications technology) and physical education, told the jury that he did not deliberately touch any of the four complainants.

When asked by his defence barrister: “Did you touch any of these girls deliberately and sexually?,” he replied “No”.

Sharpe told the jury he first worked at the school in a temporary post as a PE teacher before he was given a permanent job.

He told the jury he also played hockey for Peterborough and described himself as “very happy” in his post. After a period of time he said he also began teaching ICT.

His barrister Stephen Spence, questioning him about the first complainant, asked him: “Do you recall coming into physical contact with her?” Sharpe replied “No”.

Mr Spence then asked: “Did you ever deliberately put your hand on her leg?.” Sharpe replied: “No”.

The defendant was then asked: “Did you find her sexually attractive?” Sharpe replied “No”.

Mr Spence then asked: “Did you touch her leg in order to get some sort of thrill?” Sharpe again responded: “No”.

When questioned about the second complainant Sharpe admitted he crouched down alongside her to assist her using a computer. He said he accidentally came into physical contact with her but it was not deliberate.

He denied deliberately touching a third girl and denied rubbing her leg.

Sharpe said he may have brushed against a fourth girl while showing her what to do on her computer. He denied seeking any sexual thrill with her and said he did not find her attractive.

Sharpe (32), of Chatsworth Close, Peterborough, denied four charges of sexual activity with a child on dates between November 2014 and January 2015. The jury cleared him of all four charges.

Andrew Vout, prosecuting, alleged that Sharpe touched the legs and thighs of girls aged 13 and 14.

He told the jury that Sharpe had been the subject of a previous complaint back in July 2014 when he was alleged to have deliberately put his hand on the leg of another girl.

The matter was referred to the police. A decision was subsequently made not to bring any charges and Sharpe was allowed to continue in his job after receiving a warning from his head teacher.

Mr Vout said: “He was specifically told not to touch students. He was threatened with disciplinary action if he didn’t comply with the order.”

But just six months later Sharpe was suspended from his post after the further allegations came to light.

Mr Vout said that an investigation began after a teacher at the school overheard three of the girls discussing Sharpe and as a result the inquiry commenced.

• There is a court order not to identify the complainants in this case which includes not identifying their addresses or the school that they attend.