Private school sports coach jailed after sexually abusing six students
Ajaz Karim is the third of five convicted former teachers from Christ’s Hospital School in Horsham to be jailed.
A top private school sports coach who “betrayed everything a teacher should stand for” has been jailed for 10 years after sexually abusing six of his students.
Ajaz Karim massaged a girl’s “virtually naked body” after making her lie face down on the floor of his locked study before sexually assaulting her while he worked at Christ’s Hospital School in Horsham, West Sussex, between 1985 and 1993.
His victims were aged between 14 and 18.
The 63-year-old, who went on to work at a string of prestigious establishments including Eton College and Queen’s Club, was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order when he appeared via video link at Hove Crown Court on Thursday.
Karim, of Hammersmith, west London, is the third of five convicted former teachers from the school to be jailed after more than 20 students were preyed upon over a period of 30 years.
A jury found him guilty in April of nine charges of indecent assault and one of attempting to do so.
Judge Christine Henson said he displayed a “complete disregard” and “continued arrogance” towards his victims, adding: “I’m in no doubt that you used your popularity as a teacher to groom your victims.
“They should have been safe and secure, sadly they were not.
“You have betrayed everything a teacher should stand for.”
His trial heard how he also pushed another girl up against a wall and kissed her.
He tried to “snog” another before laughing as she ran away.
He left the school after complaints from four pupils made between 1990 and 1993 surfaced.
Senior staff came under fire from victims over the way they handled the allegations.
Teachers never reported him to the police and he was initially allowed to carry on working, even with the girls in question.
Reading a victim’s statement, Oliver Dunkin, prosecuting, said she was “deeply disappointed” with the school’s handling of the incidents which made it “hugely traumatic”.
She added: “For 32 years I have lived with the deeply buried memory of events that took place with Mr Karim. Until recently I believed the impact had been minimal and I got on and lived my life.”
She said she now realises failing exams, having trust issues with authority figures, depression and problems with intimacy were all prompted by her ordeal.
Describing the assault, she said: “I heard a voice in my head screaming ‘This is wrong’. I was petrified, I believed no-one would believe me.”
Another victim, who said she was warned in 1992 by housemaster Bob Sillett her identity could be revealed if allegations against Karim became public, said the school “failed to protect” her.
She said she was “shunned” by classmates after Karim spread rumours about her when she complained.
His “deceitful actions” made it a “truly unpleasant” experience, she said, adding: “He knew I was a vulnerable young person and he exploited that.”
His career took off after being branded a school success story.
He earned a scholarship there after arriving as a Ugandan refugee and told the court his fees were paid for by alumnus Sir Barnes Wallis, inventor of the bouncing bomb.
He was head coach at the Canary Wharf Health Club until September last year and has run his own sports consultancy firm, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He also worked at London branches of Champneys and Credit Suisse as well as The Hurlingham Club.
Divorced Karim, who has a 26-year-old son and was branded “smarmy” by victims, described himself as an “arrogant young coach” who was “really good looking” at the time.
He said his victims were liars and even accused one of being a “manipulative” attention seeker, saying he was “offended” anyone suggested he was attracted to her.
He claimed he was using alternative therapy the Bowen Technique on students, despite having no qualifications for the practice.
Jonathan Davies, defending, said Karim knew the “book would be thrown at him” after speaking with fellow convicted Christ’s Hospital teacher James Husband in prison and learning of his 17-year sentence for rape and indecent assault.
Karim lost all his “high-flying” jobs when he was prosecuted.
But a host of friends including two directors of the renowned London tennis club applauded his morals and described him as a “magnetic attraction” at Queen’s – where he is said to have worked for more than 30 years.
Dressed in a white shirt and dark trousers, he rubbed his eyes and held his head in his hands as he listened to their testimonies.
An NSPCC spokeswoman said Karim displayed a “shocking breach of trust”, adding: “We hope today’s sentencing provides some sort of closure for those cruelly targeted by Karim.”
In an interview with the Press Association last month, headmaster Simon Reid said the culture at the school had “transformed beyond recognition” and now tries to go to “the ends of the world” to make
children feel safe with rigorous checks and training for staff.
When Karim was convicted, Mr Reid said staff were “deeply sorry” the offences were committed at the school and the welfare of students was the “highest priority”, adding: “Any allegations arising now would be dealt with in a very different way.”