Abuse or love? Jailing of lesbian re-opens debate

25th September 2009 at 01:00
Music teacher's 15-month sentence for consensual relationship with pupil divides opinion

Broadsheets and tabloids alike could hardly contain their excitement when 26-year-old music teacher Helen Goddard was found guilty of conducting a lesbian relationship with a 15-year-old pupil.

The teacher, a former child music prodigy, admitted six sample counts of sexual activity with the girl between February and July this year after her flat was raided in the summer.

Sentencing Ms Goddard to 15 months in jail, Judge Anthony Pitts said: "This is a difficult case. The evidence showed you were having a full-on sexual relationship with the girl for many months.

"She has made it clear that the sexual contact between you was consensual and she says in her statement that in fact it was instigated by her.

"It is, of course, against the law to engage in sexual activity with a person under 16, even with her consent. These are serious offences in their own right. But the particularly aggravating feature evident here of course is that you were her music teacher throughout this period and from well before the sexual relationship started."

Further controversy was sparked when Judge Pitts refused to place an injunction on the pair seeing each other after Goddard's release, a decision which opens up the possibility of the affair continuing.

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