A nationally-acclaimed headteacher accused of having underage sex with two teenage boys in the 1980s was an "inspirational leader" who has dedicated herself to helping young people, a court has heard.
Anne Lakey, 55, denies a total of 13 counts of indecent assault on a boy aged 13 or 14 and another boy aged 15 over a three-year-period when she was a history and RE teacher.
The prosecution at Teesside Crown Court has described her as a sexual predator who groomed the younger complainant and took his virginity after allowing him to watch her take a bath.
The older complainant told the court he lost his virginity with her as well, after she encouraged him to creep into her tent at a camp.
She is accused of repeatedly having sexual relations with the teenagers at separate times at her home in Stanley, County Durham, while her then husband was away.
Opening the case for the defence, Tim Robert QC said Lakey will give her account tomorrow, and defence witnesses will give evidence that challenges the prosecution claims.
Mr Roberts said the jury will also hear from witnesses who will "attest to Mrs Lakey's good character".
He told the jury: "You will learn from that evidence that she has been a dedicated teacher in the North East.
"In addition to that, she has been an inspirational leader to others in education and her personal attributes have achieved national recognition.
"The focus of her attention during her career has been to improve the opportunities available to young people in the former mining villages of North Durham."
Mr Roberts said the jury had only heard half of the evidence at this point in the trial.
The allegations centred on events said to have happened 25 years ago, he said.
That meant the police could not send "men in white suits to the scene of the crime", gather CCTV images, seize mobile phones or get fresh accounts from witnesses. Referring to the tent allegation, he said: "None of these things can be achieved where a complaint is made about something that happened in a dark field ... 25 years ago."
He added: "At this distance of time it does come down to word against word."
The jury has heard Lakey told police in interview she did not have sex with the first complainant and only had a sexual relationship with the older accuser when he was 18, and she was in her early 30s.
She told detectives: "I did not have sex with (the older complainant) when he was under 16, I am 100% certain."