A schoolteacher has appeared in court on a number of allegations relating to an inappropriate relationship with a pupil.
The accused cannot be identified, nor can the school at which he first encountered the pupil, in order to protect her identity.
He is charged with two counts of sexual assault along with single counts each of meeting the child following a period of grooming and intentionally engaging in sexually touching a child.
Offending is alleged to have occurred on various dates between August 1 and September 30 this year.
A detective constable said the charges could be connected to the accused.
While the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending were not disclosed, she explained the teacher had written a number of letters to the pupil and “it would appear he is quite infatuated with her”.
Objecting to bail the detective highlighted the child’s vulnerability by way of age and the potential to be approached by the accused or someone on his behalf to influence her to withdraw her complaint.
“We also feel there is a risk [the defendant] may try to contact her and commit further offences,” she added.
District Judge Bernie Kelly also expressed concerns of “tangential pressure” from others, stressing the parties had encountered each other when the accused was in a position of trust as her teacher.
“It wouldn’t be the first time a teacher has approached a child in school and told them what to do in certain situations. The idea the child is still at the school he taught at and therefore built up some sort of relationship with other staff, causes me problems. There may be an attempt to contact staff and they in turn may apply some pressure on the injured party.”
A defence barrister accepted these were legitimate concerns, however, informed the court his client’s dealings with the pupil in the school setting “is not in dispute”.
“A new teacher took over the class and my client left. Any relationship post-dates his employment at the school.”
He added the pupil’s parents were fully aware of the relationship and it was only when he ended this by way of a text message on October 24, she attended with police.
Judge Kelly found this concerning and stated: “Children, by virtue of their age, cannot consent. Nor can parents consent on their behalf and there are very good reasons for that.”
Following consideration she agreed bail could be granted in the sum of £500 and banned all contact with the pupil and staff from the school she attends.
He must reside at an address known to police and is excluded from undertaking any teaching role including from an extra-curricular perspective.
There is also a complete prohibition on contact with any person aged under 18.
Judge Kelly warned the accused: “Just one breach, no matter how small, of any one the conditions imposed will mean bail will be revoked and you will remain in custody.”
The case will be mentioned again at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court next month.