Teacher on trial for alleged acts of indecency in class
A TEACHER accused of fondling himself beneath the desk in front of a child is standing trial on charges that he unlawfully committed acts of indecency involving children in the classroom.
In his defended three day trial before a jury in Ipswich District Court, the teacher Timothy Edward Draper has pleaded not guilty to committing the offences involving four female students aged between 12 and 14 when under his care at an Ipswich school in 2016.
A quick-acting student is said by the prosecution to have used mobile phone to film one alleged offence.
In the Crown case, Mr Draper, now aged 50, is charged with four counts of unlawful indecent dealing with a child under 16. He is also charged with unlawful assault of child - an alternative charge to one of the charges.
Crown prosecutor Farook Anoozer said the charges relate to incidents that allegedly occurred between July 10, 2016 and August 9, 2016 at an Ipswich school when Mr Draper was employed as a relief teacher.
In his opening address to the jury of six men and six women, Mr Anoozer said the children made complaints to the school authorities about the teacher's behaviour.
Mr Anoozer said that the first charge relates to a girl then aged 13 who says Mr Draper was seated at a desk using his laptop at the front of the classroom when she saw him looking at her.
"He (is alleged) to have put his hand down the front of his shorts, his shirt was pulled up a little," he said.
"Put his hand through the clothes, to the centre of his body.
"She says it was his penis through his shorts."
Mr Anoozer said one student used another student's mobile phone take a four second video of him which would be shown as evidence.
"The phone was handed to the school and downloaded and put on a CD," he said.
"The Crown says he wilfully exposed (the child) to an indecent act, putting his hands down his shorts."
Mr Anoozer said the second charge relates to a child aged 12 or 13 who alleges Mr Draper approached her and put his arm around her and rested it on her shoulder.
She said that in her evidence he had asked if she was alright, and when he moved his arm there had been slight pressure felt across her chest.
"The Crown says he unlawfully applied pressure to her chest area," he said.
Mr Anoozer said the third charge has an alternate charge of assault and involves a girl aged 12.
The child alleges the teacher leaned over her to ask if she was okay.
She said he put his hand near her shoulder then "twirled her hair" with his fingers.
"She felt uncomfortable," he said.
"The Crown says placing his hand on her shoulder and twirling her hair was indecent.
"If you (jury) are not satisfied twirling her hair has any sexual connotations there is an alternative common assault charge."
Mr Anoozer said the fourth complainant was aged 14 and would speak of an incident when she had to get a report signed.
She alleges the teacher asked her to come close and that Mr Draper rubbed her leg below the knee and up toward her thigh.
"The Crown says placing his hand on her leg and moving up her thigh was indecent," he said.
Mr Anoozer said that when shown the children's video Mr Draper did say it was him.
Mr Draper denies all allegations made by the children.
Mr Anoozer said the deputy school principal would give evidence after evidence of the four students was played.
The teacher's defence barrister James Benjamin did not make an opening address to the jury.
Mr Benjamin said while legislation was silent about playing recorded evidence in chief, there was a general practice in Queensland in closing the court (to media) although different judges did take different views.
The court was closed during cross-examination of child witnesses.
With the jury now absent, both the prosecutor and defence barrister sought for the court to be closed to media when the pre-recorded evidence of the children was played to the jury.
Judge Bernard Porter QC said his enthusiasm for closing courts in criminal trials was less than in current (Queensland) trends.
Comment was made about protection of children's privacy as well as maintaining an open justice system, and a perceived potential "unfairness" to the accused if the evidence of the case could not be reported and only that of the Crown in opening the case.
Following discussion Judge Porter ordered the court to be closed.
As a result the case, where there exists likely strong community interest, the evidence will not be detailed to the community which will remain in ignorance despite the judicial system acting on its behalf.
The trial continues Wednesday.