A TEACHER who allegedly ‘exploited the loneliness’ of his pupils to sexually abuse them has appeared in court.
Jonathan O’Brien, 55, of Fairfield Road, Bosham pleaded not guilty earlier this year to 28 charges of abusing boys at private schools in Kidderminster and Reading during the 1980s.
He faces 18 counts of indecent assault of a boy under 14, five counts of indecently assaulting a boy under 16 and five counts of gross indecency with a boy under 14. The allegations were made when one of his accusers went to a police station in December 2012.
Opening for the prosecution at Chichester Crown Court yesterday, John Causer said O’Brien ‘targeted and groomed’ boys of a particular type, normally clever, slim, blond sporty types.
‘Pupils had a sense they were being educated, that he was sharing a secret rather than forcing something on them,’ said Mr Causer.
‘He himself was charming, convivial and attractive outside the school environment – someone who easily dazzled the people who he met.
‘It seems from what we will hear that Mr O’Brien was sexually omnivorous.
‘The victims in this case are male but he dated women as well.’
The two private schools in question are Winterfold House School, near Kidderminster, and The Oratory, near Reading.
A number of the alleged incidents were said to have taken place in the schools’ photography dark room.
Mr Causer said the dark room was ideal for what O’Brien wanted as it was the only room at Winterfold House which had a lock on the door and a warning sign outside.
He said: ‘The photography was the pretence. In fact, many of the boys did not use a camera at all.’
He continued: ‘The dark room was a private place where he could lock the door and abuse pupils.’
The court heard that O’Brien would exploit friendships between pupils and use extra tuition sessions to get one-to-one contact with his victims, as well as ingratiating himself with the boys’ families.
He also exploited the loneliness of unpopular boys, or those whose parents lived abroad, as well as abusing their sexual naivety by showing them pornography, the jury was told.
O’Brien even offered his then girlfriend to the boys he was allegedly abusing, without her knowledge, telling them she would take their virginity, the court heard.
The trial is expected to last for around five weeks. Witness evidence is due to start today.