RE teacher was 'sex stalker'

28th January 2005 at 00:00
GTC hears how accused allegedly sexually harassed four female colleagues and discussed his sexual preferences with pupils. Oliver Luft reports

A religious studies teacher has been accused of sexually harassing four women at a Wirral boys' school - stalking one and attempting to put his hand up the skirt of another.

Barry Derriscott is facing charges of professional misconduct, of using sexually-fuelled language and conducting inappropriate lessons where he made derogatory remarks about pupils and colleagues.

England's General Teaching Council heard last week that one woman had to undergo counselling as a result of his behaviour at Pensby boys' school between January 2001 and February 2003.

Susan Hepworth, Connexions careers adviser at the school, broke down as she told the GTC of the nightmares she had suffered as a result of Mr Derriscott's attention.

She said he had followed her for several miles in his car and that on another occasion she had peered out of the window in her office in West Kirby to see him standing in the pouring rain staring at her.

Mr Derriscott had badgered her with requests for lunch and dinner dates despite knowing she was in a long-term relationship, and when she came back from a holiday in Spain he asked to see her "white bits".

Ms Hepworth said he touched her inappropriately, digging her in the ribs, at school and once in the street.

He constantly grilled her in a lascivious and suggestive way about her private life. When she wore a sleeveless dress to school he said it would make pupils think about sex.

"I have no friends who have ever behaved the way Mr Derriscott behaved towards me," said Ms Hepworth. "His behaviour was not friendly. I was hideously embarrassed by what he said to me. I was concerned that he was fixated with me."

She made an unofficial complaint to Martin Jones, head of the 800-pupil school, in late 2002, and Mr Derriscott was suspended after further complaints in January 2003.

The GTC heard that a male teacher had to intervene to stop Mr Derriscott persisting in attempts to put his hand up the skirt of colleague Becky Baylis during a school party.

Michelle Ellis, a classroom assistant, complained he constantly embarrassed and offended her, making her ill with worry.

Kathy Bolt, a teacher said she felt uncomfortable in his company after he sent her text messages asking her if she was bored and needed her evening spicing up.

It is alleged that he also told her: "These hands are magical, these hands are healing. Let me try them on you." He asked her: "When are you going to try out my water bed?"

The GTC heard that when he was confronted by the head, Mr Derriscott said it was just good fun and innocent banter with friends.

He did not attend last week's disciplinary hearing but denied sexually harassing the four women and using innuendo. He said that the women and the school management had worked together to get rid of him.

Mr Derriscott was suspended two years ago and resigned in February 2003. He is now unemployed and living on state benefits.

Mr Jones said there was no co-ercion, but Mr Derriscott had no appreciation of the hurt he had caused, nor the inappropriateness of his behaviour.

He said Mr Derriscott had openly discussed his sexual acts and preferences with his pupils. It was alleged he told pupils one student was a "druggie loser, going nowhere in life".

Mr Derriscott, who had worked as a agency employee at the school, was given a permanent job at the Pensby in September 2001. He was promoted to a temporary management post in January 2002.

Mr Jones said the promotion was not because he had outstanding capabilities, but because there was a need for continuity while the school awaited the arrival of a new head of department.

The headteacher said: "I would have considerable reservations about letting him back into a classroom - it's clear to me his practices could damage pupils."

The GTC is considering its decision.

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