An attractive female teacher pleading guilty to sexual offences on a girl at a public school? You could almost feel the Daily Mail salivate. Actually, they weren’t too bad. They got the law wrong, but their coverage wasn’t too salacious.
Anyway. As the BBC reported, Emily Fox, a 26 year old teacher at the Royal Masonic School for Girls in Rickmansworth, pleaded guilty on 7th August 2014 to four charges relating to sexual activity that she had with a 15 year old pupil.
The case has been adjourned for sentence to obtain a pre-sentence report. Ms Fox was released on bail until then, but will have to register as a sex offender.
What were the charges?
It seems that it was four counts of sexual activity with a child in breach of trust, contrary to s16 Sexual Offences Act 2003.
This immediately causes problems. The maximum sentence is 5 years in prison. This was seem low, but it will only be charged where there is consent, which we can assume was present here, if those were in fact the correct charges.
However, it seems that the Judge was told that the “starting point for the offences was four years in jail with a range of three to seven years“. Looking at the Sentencing Guidelines (page 67), this is far above the figures given in the guidelines.
So. What is behind this? The range stated above is for offences of Causing a Person to engage in Sexual Activity without consent and without penetration (s4 Sexual Offences Act – p22 Guidelines). It doesn’t appear to be for any other applicable offences.
This is far more serious – it requires an absence of consent. It’s unclear in this case what actually happened, but the range stated puts it right in the top category. This requires, at the very least, a combination of the extreme nature or consequence of the following :
• Severe psychological or physical harm
• Penetration using large or dangerous object(s)
• Pregnancy or STI as a consequence of offence
• Additional degradation/humiliation
• Prolonged detention/sustained incident
• Violence or threats of violence
• Forced/uninvited entry into victim’s home
• Victim is particularly vulnerable due to personal circumstances
Some are clearly not relevant. As to the rest, and what the factors were, we can only guess. Even if those are present, further aggravating features (in Column A) are required.
At this stage, it is all a bit unsatisfactory. There’s not much more we can say until the sentence, where hopefully it will be spelt out in more detail.