Cathy Newman says she was sexually harassed at Surrey private school
The presenter was a scholarship student at Charterhouse in Godalming.
Broadcaster Cathy Newman has said she was sexually harassed while she was a pupil at an elite private school in Surrey.
The Channel 4 News presenter, 44, said a boy unzipped his trousers and forced her to touch him not long after she enrolled at Charterhouse in Godalming on a scholarship when she was 16.
She told The Times that pupils also sprayed water on her shirt to make it see through and that some of the boys would grade the few female students on their looks.
She said: “We were in the lunch hall and a boy sitting next to me unzipped his flies and grabbed my hand and forced me to touch his penis. I didn’t talk to anyone about it [for years].
“Now we’ve got online abuse and the [concern] about someone taking a naked photo.
“I think back to that incident. How much worse would it have been if it had been being filmed and put out [online]?”
“Your instinct is always, or has been I think, to sort of laugh it off and then of question whether you were in some way to blame,” she said.
“I think that’s exactly what I did.
“I was just having a nice chat with people over a meal [when the incident took place], so it was completely unexpected.
“I just shrieked in a fairly comical way, laughed at myself to get over the humiliation of it, but afterwards I felt really embarrassed and quite … you know, you’re a 16-year-old girl, you’re not that sure of yourself, you’re just trying to work out who you are, what you want out of life and something like that makes you feel humiliated.”
Newman’s father taught at the independent day and boarding school, which she said made her “an easier target”.
She said being on a scholarship was also “a point of difference”.
Charterhouse said it had not previously been aware of Newman’s allegations, but that they have now reported them to the police.
A statement said: “Charterhouse was first made aware of these serious allegations yesterday [Saturday].
“If disclosures such as these regarding a current pupil were made to us today we would report them immediately to the statutory authorities and act to safeguard any pupils affected whilst statutory enquiries took place.
“Having now been made aware of these particular allegations, we have reported them to the police and will assist them fully in any investigation.
“While the events are said to have happened some time ago, they are deeply shocking. Such behaviour has no place in any school.
“Charterhouse has a zero tolerance policy towards bullying or harassment of any kind, and puts the welfare of all pupils above every other consideration.
“We will continue to assist the appropriate authorities with any enquiries, but will not be making further statements at this time.”
Newman spoke ahead of the launch of a campaign by anti-bullying charity The Diana Award, which aims to encourage girls to report bullying and harassment.