Teacher victim of upskirting pupil breaks silence to tell of her trauma
A teacher who was targeted in an upskirting case at a Fermanagh school has said "nobody should have to justify their victimhood".
She also revealed how the ordeal left her battling the urge to be physically sick as she walked down the corridor at school, and with an "overwhelming" sense of violation.
Referring to what happened to herself and a teaching colleague, the victim said she felt "there has been a struggle" to recognise the offence as a sexual assault, adding that the videos "were much worse" than she imagined.
'Rachel' - not her real name - was one of two women who fell prey to upskirting pupil Timothy Boomer, who was found guilty of five acts of outraging public decency in February.
The teenl, now aged 18, took five images, including videos, up the skirts of both teachers at Portora Royal School, which became Enniskillen Royal Grammar School in September 2016.
The images, taken in 2015 and 2016 when Boomer was aged 14 and 15, were discovered on a memory stick in an ICT room at the school.
Speaking out days after he was given a 20-hour Attendance Centre Order to work with the Youth Justice Agency on victimisation, Rachel told of her horror at seeing the videos Boomer had taken.
She told the Impartial Reporter: "I had been told that 'they were not too bad' and that 'I had been wearing tights at the time' and things like that.
"But the videos were much worse than I could possibly have imagined. I was not wearing tights. It didn't change how I felt, the harm had still been done.
"But had I seen them earlier it would have made me question the authorities more and the decisions that they made and it would also have given me more evidence to back up the extent of violation that I felt."
During 18 months of the ongoing ordeal, she continued to teach in the school while Boomer remained a pupil, but said it had a devastating effect on her.
"When he decided to take upskirt photos and videos of me, he changed me from a teacher to an object for his own use," she said.
"In that moment his desires were more important than my right to privacy, dignity and respect. The sense of violation is overwhelming. My trust has been totally shattered.
"I walk down the corridor at school and sometimes have to repress the urge to be physically sick, when I see a pupil and think: has he seen pictures up my skirt too? I am traumatised, and it has had a profound affect on my body."
Rachel told the newspaper that she rejects any suggestion that upskirting is tantamount to a schoolboy prank.
"It was not," she said.
"I was glad with what the judge said when he delivered his verdict. He said that 'given the deplorable nature of the defendant's acts' that there were those in his peer group who would have been outraged.
"And I know this to be true, I know there are boys of that age who would have been disgusted by it all."
Rachel said society must not excuse this type of behaviour or treat it with indifference.
"This is not normal or acceptable behaviour," she added.
"The 'boys will be boys' and 'childish prank' narrative needs to be debunked, challenged and the act seen for what it is in terms of the real and lasting harm it has on victims."
Rachel also called for the introduction of legislation in Northern Ireland (unlike England and Wales there is no offence of upskirting in criminal law here) as well as a change in mindset from the police.
"We had to fight to get this case taken," she added.
"We were told that it would not stand up in court, yet it has."
• If you have been a victim of upskirting, contact police on the non-emergency number 101.