REGIONAL: Teacher facing sex assault allegations was allowed to stay at top school, court hears

Ajaz Karim. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Ajaz Karim. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
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A top private school allowed a ‘smarmy’ teacher to continue working after allegations of sexual assault had been made by a teenage pupil, a court heard.

Ajaz Karim denies nine charges of indecent assault and one attempted indecent assault against six girls aged 14 to 18 at Christ’s Hospital School in Horsham, West Sussex, between 1985 and 1993.

Complaints made against him in the early 1990s led him to leave the school, Brighton Crown Court heard on Friday.

The 63-year-old, of Hammersmith in West London, has since worked at Eton College, Queen’s Club, The Hurlingham Club, and has links to London branches of Champneys and Credit Suisse.

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Karim is accused of carrying out ‘wholly unnecessary’ massages, kissing a pupil on the lips and trying to ‘snog’ another when he worked at the prestigious Horsham school.

Eloise Marshall, prosecuting, told the court between 1985 and 1987 he massaged a 14-year-old girl’s ‘virtually naked body’ after telling her to lie face down on the floor of his locked study.

Jurors heard how he told her to keep her eyes closed while he put music on and touched her inappropriately.

The alleged victim said she told the school while she was still a pupil but only reported the incident to police decades later - prompted by other complainants who had the ‘courage’ to come forward.

In a recorded police interview played to the jury, she described Karim as ‘smarmy’.

She added: ‘I remember feeling very uncomfortable and knowing something was wrong and not quite knowing how to deal with the situation or how to get out of it and feeling very powerless.’

She said initially she did not tell anyone because she was ‘freaked out’ but later confided in schoolfriends and teachers.

She said after telling the school she was ‘slightly horrified to discover that he continued to teach’, adding: ‘I hoped the school would act on our information but I don’t believe anything like that happened.’

She said she and a schoolfriend were questioned about the incident in separate rooms and she provided a ‘detailed four-page statement’ to Richard Poulton, the headmaster at the time.

She told the police officer she did not report the allegations earlier because she had told the school and previously felt that was ‘as far as she could take it’.

Ms Marshall told the court: ‘Mr Karim used his position as a member of staff and his role in the sports department at the school to use massage of these girls as a subterfuge for touching them sexually.

‘They didn’t all appreciate at the time that the touching was sexual but all say they felt uncomfortable.

‘The crown say (his behaviour) was inappropriate and unnecessary.’

Karim denied the allegations when he was arrested and interviewed in 2016, claiming he was teaching the girls breathing and relaxation techniques and when he did massage them it was to help them bend their legs.

The trial continues on Monday.