A history teacher at a £34,000-a-year school has been jailed for 17 years for raping one of his pupils, leaving her suffering a ‘life sentence’ of suicidal thoughts and self-harming.
James Husband is the fifth Christ’s Hospital School teacher to be convicted of sexually abusing students over a period spanning more than 30 years and involving 22 victims.
The 68-year-old, of Wigginton, York, was last week convicted of one count of rape and five of indecently assaulting a girl as young as 14 between 1990 and 1993 while he was teaching at the prestigious West Sussex school.
Husband, known by his middle name Andrew, told the 16-year-old before the attack: ‘It’s OK, I’ve had a vasectomy.’
Placing Husband on the sex offenders’ register for life and banning him from working with children, Judge Christine Henson QC said that the victim had given ‘harrowing’ evidence in the trial at Hove Crown Court.
She told Husband: ‘You put yourself in the position of her mentor in order to make her feel special and dependent on you so you could do what you wanted sexually with her.
‘She viewed you as a father figure, thus rendering the abuse of trust particularly acute.’
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the complainant described how she had seen Husband as a ‘mentor and father figure’.
She said: ‘The grooming process was devious and malignant by making me feel special for the first time in my life, I became dependant on him for my own feeling of self worth.’
She said that Husband moulded her into his ‘plaything’ and ‘puppet’ so ‘he could do what he wanted to me’.
‘He twisted my mind to abuse my body and made my body feel dirty and degraded until I believed this to be true.’
She said she had been offered a place at Cambridge but had failed to reach the grades because she had been ‘worn down’ by his abuse.
Police praise courage of victim
Police have praised the courage of a woman who reported her former teacher James Husband and his colleague Gary Dobbie, who abused her.
Detective Sergeant Karrie Bohanna, of the Sussex Police complex abuse unit, said: ‘This has been a very complex and sensitive investigation in which the victim of Husband has shown real courage to speak up and report both to Christ’s Hospital School and the police.
‘Our investigation began in January 2016 when she contacted the school and reported the abuse.
‘She subsequently made a statement to us and also said that Dobbie, who was the school chaplain, had, on learning of the systematic abuse of her by Husband, indecently assaulted her himself.
‘The victims of Husband and Dobbie were mainly children who should have been able to feel safe whilst in the care of their teachers; instead both Husband and Dobbie exploited their positions in order to groom and sexually abuse their victims.’
‘All the offending in this case dates back to between 17 and 30 years ago and does not involve current staff or pupils at the school.
‘We have had the fullest co-operation from the school throughout this investigation, and they have supported us in providing all the information we requested, which helped us to contact these victims, and witnesses.’
‘This case once again shows that we will take all allegations of such abuse seriously, and will seek to investigate and to help victims gain access to sources of independent advice and support.’
The complainant said that the abuse had left her with a ‘life sentence’ of anorexia, suicidal thoughts and self-harm, with the prosecution bringing back flashbacks which were ‘unbearable’.
Eloise Marshall, prosecuting, said that Husband targeted the victim as a ‘particularly vulnerable and intelligent pupil’.
She said: ‘She was a great pupil capable of achieving great things. He lifted her out of the ordinary, giving him the opportunity to sexually assault her.’
Charlotte Newell, defending, said: ‘He was a great teacher, inspirational to very many students who he taught over very many years, he inspired many students to aim high in their academic aspirations.’
She added: ‘The shame will live with him emotionally and socially for life.’
Husband’s co-defendant Gary Dobbie, who was convicted of abusing eight children as young as 12 over three years up to 2001, is to be sentenced at a later date.
During the course of the trial two more former students came forward with allegations which are being investigated.
Teachers Peter Webb and Peter Burr were both jailed in the last year after admitting offences at the school between the 1960s and 1980s.
Sports coach Ajaz Karim – who went on to teach at Eton College and Queen’s – was found guilty in April of assaulting six girls between 1985 and 1993 and is due to be sentenced in August.
An NSPCC spokesman said: ‘Husband used and abused his position of trust in the worst possible way and then tried to claim his sickening behaviour was nothing more than consensual sex.
‘His jailing today will hopefully give some sort of closure to his victim and at the same time encourage other people in a similar position to come forward and report what has happened to them.’
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