Sexual abuse by a teacher is a particularly serious crime as it involves an abuse of power. When this occurs the victim is often entitled to receive compensation from the local authority who empoloyed the teacher if it can be established that they failed to take steps to protect children in their care. This case study tells the story of a pupil who suffered abuse at the hands of his teacher, Robert Neill, and succeeded in recovering compensation from the local authority.
Our client suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his secondary school teacher, Robert Neill. The abuse took place at Kennett School in Thatcham. A serious case review was carried out by West Berkshire Safeguard Children Board. This highlighted failures at the school over its handling of offences committed there between 1985 and 2015. It was found the school had not followed professional guidance and the local council could have acted more quickly.
Despite our client’s young age, Robert Neill engaged in inappropriate sexualised conversations, exposed himself and sexually assaulted him. He was in a position of trust and authority in his employment as a teacher and he took advantage of this to abuse children in his care. There were numerous incidents of abuse and inappropriate behaviour which took place on the school premises.
In 2014, our client reported the abuse he had suffered to the Police. In early 2016, Robert Neill was tried and convicted of sexual offences against our client and other young boys. He was given a 21 year custodial sentence.
Around a year after the conviction, Rachel Thain, a lawyer in our abuse team, was instructed to pursue a claim for compensation for the sexual abuse by a teacher and the effect this had upon our client. The claim was directed towards the local authority who were responsible for the school and employed Robert Neill as a teacher there.
Evidence was gathered regarding the teacher's criminal conviction, which our client was able to rely on for the purposes of his claim for compensation.
A Letter of Claim was prepared setting out the abuse suffered by our client and why we felt the local authority was legally responsible.
The local authority instructed solicitors who investigated the compensation claim. An offer of £7,000 was made by the local authority soon after. However, Rachel felt our client could obtain a higher award. After some negotiation, we were able to secure an offer of compensation totaling £15,000. Our client was very pleased with this outcome and accepted the offer.