Teacher faces court in child sex case

A SOUTH-WEST teacher appeared in court yesterday charged with having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student.

The male teacher was in the Hamilton Magistrates Court yesterday facing five counts of sexual penetration of a child under his care or supervision.

Magistrate Peter Mellas put in place an order suppressing the name of the accused teacher and the school where he has worked for a long time because the magistrate decided that information could lead to the identification of the alleged victim.

Last Saturday Warrnambool police sex offences and child abuse investigation team detectives were provided with information that led to the teacher being interviewed and charged with five offences and yesterday’s court filing hearing being scheduled.

Police allege that the incidents happened in three south-west locations during late last year and overnight on New Year’s Eve.

Detective Senior Constable Jacqui Eaton said yesterday outside court that police inquiries into an unrelated matter prompted the teacher/student investigation.

She said there were still investigations to be undertaken and other evidence needed to be gathered, including through online social networks and telephone records.

The teacher appeared in court yesterday unrepresented by legal counsel. Mr Mellas told the accused teacher the charges were so serious they could not be heard in the magistrates court and they had to enter the committal process.

The case was adjourned to a committal mention in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court on May 12. 

Police have until March 31 to serve a brief of evidence.

Mr Mellas also urged the teacher to get legal representation.

The teacher said the legal proceedings had all happened in a very short time frame. 

“It’s been only two days,” he said.

The Standard applied for access to the police charge sheets and the teacher applied for a suppression order until the next court date.

After vigorous discussion Mr Mellas ordered a publication suppression of the accused teacher’s name, the alleged victim’s name, the school where the teacher and student attended and the school’s location.

The accused argued he was a well known long-time teacher and publication of his name or the school involved could lead to the alleged victim’s identity becoming known.

Detective Senior Constable Eaton and police prosecutor Senior Constable Paul Harris opposed the application for a suppression order.

In granting the suppression order Mr Mellas said publication could lead to a chain of inquiry from interested people which would potentially identify the alleged victim.

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