Accused teacher denies all allegations
A TEACHER accused of committing acts of indecency involving students strongly denied the allegations when interviewed by police.
The allegations involve the teacher touching himself inside his clothing while seated in a classroom, and touching a student on the leg above her knee.
Defence barrister James Benjamin for teacher Timothy Edward Draper said the criminal allegations were “every male teacher’s worst nightmare”, when he addressed the jury panel and Judge Bernard Porter QC.
In his defended week-long trial before Ipswich District Court, Mr Draper, 51, pleaded not guilty to committing four counts of unlawful indecent dealing with a child under 16. The alleged offences occured between July 10, 2016 and August 9, 2016 when the four female students aged between 12 and 14 were under his care.
On Friday the Crown withdrew a charge of common assault which had been an alternative for one of the indecent dealing charges.
In evidence the deputy school principal said three female students showed a video taken by another student on a mobile phone in the classroom that allegedly depicts Draper seated at a table.
“I took the phone to the principal. Was told to get the phone to our IT department to get the video copied for our school records system,” the deputy principal said.
When cross-examined the deputy principal (who can’t be named for legal reasons) said he identified the room as being one of the school’s classrooms. At the end of his evidence he conceded that he could not positively identify the depicted male as being Draper, who was contracted as a relief teacher at the time.
The four-second Snap Chat video was played a number of times to the jury and depicts an adult male seated at a desk with one hand inside his shorts at the side of his body. His shirt is partially untucked and some of his skin is visible.
Draper did not deny being the person in the video when interviewed by police.
In an interview recorded by police officers from the Ipswich District Child Protection Unit and played to the jury, Draper said all he was told by the school principal was that there had been an allegation of “unethical behaviour”.
“A pretty sharp short phone call (by the principal) I don’t want you back in my school on Monday,” Draper said to the police.
“At that point I didn’t know anything. I thought you would tell me.
“I’m still in the dark. I don’t know what I’ve meant to have done to cause all this.
“I heard nothing through official channels, No student, no parents, no one approached me.
“I’m just baffled by all these allegations.”
When each of the different allegations made by the students were stated Draper said “I’ve no idea what she is talking about”, “not true”, “No, absolutely not true”, and “again that’s not true”.
In concluding the Crown case on Friday, prosecutor Farook Anoozer said the standard of proof in such criminal cases must be “beyond reasonable doubt”.
He said the touching as alleged had been unlawful.
Mr Anoozer said Draper did not say to police “it’s not me” when shown the video.
Mr Benjamin said what Draper was going through was every male teacher’s worse nightmare, and all it took to start this was a four second video.
“The school was rife with rumour about this man,” he said.
Mr Benjamin said the video was supposedly shot in a class on a certain date yet school records showed Draper was in another class that day.
“There is no school record of who took that class that day,” he said.
He also queried the video, saying it was so short that it can’t really be seen who it was. Mr Benjamin said this question of identification was ultimately up to the jury to decide.
Mr Benjamin said the school was “awash with rumour and hearsay” at the time. The students knew of the existence of video footage but none had seen it.
“If they had perhaps someone would have said that’s not Mr Draper,” he said.
“He was clear he doesn’t touch his students in the way police were describing. He denies touching them indecently.”
Judge Porter will address the jury on Monday morning before it retires to consider its verdict.