Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Flimsy sex abuse allegations have ruined teachers' careers

WHEN Nigel Evans MP was cleared of allegations that he was a sexual predator, he spoke of his "11 months of hell". Celebrities in a similar position also speak of their personal and family anguish.

Bill Roache (of Coronation Street fame) stated: "After the last 11 months I've gone through, nothing will ever be the same again."

When these cases were thrown out by the courts, there was an understandable outcry, with many people asking how these allegations, based on such flimsy evidence, ever reached court.

Yet this kind of thing has been allowed to happen for decades nearer to home to ordinary folk.

I know of many teachers' lives, families and careers that have almost been ruined by pupil allegations based on the flimsiest of evidence. I speak of situations where experienced, well thought of teachers, have had 'dirt' fired at them by way of an unsubstantiated sexual, or physical, assault allegation.

Once such an allegation is made, a whole irreversible procedure is set in motion. The unfortunate teacher – through no fault of their own – can be immediately excluded from their schools and jobs for anything up to a year while an investigation takes place.

Is it ever possible to rebuild a life and a career after such an experience? I very much doubt it.

Surely, Department of Education, there must be a better way of dealing with such physical and sexual allegations levelled at our teachers?

T J McCLEAN

Belfast

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