Former teacher convicted of sexually abusing pupils at school near Bromsgrove

A FORMER teacher of a school near Bromsgrove has been convicted of sexually abusing pupils in his care during the 1980s.

Jonathan O’Brien, 55, of Fairfield Road, Bosham, West Sussex, was found guilty of five charges of gross indecency and 15 counts of indecent assault after a four-week trial at Chichester Crown Court.

He had denied all the charges against him and was cleared of two further indecent assaults.

Sentencing will take place on a date to be fixed.

Of the 12 offices he committed seven were against boys at Winterfold House School, Chaddesley Corbett, between 1980 and 1985.

The others were committed against three pupils at The Oratory School, near Reading, between 1985 and 1989.

Detective Sergeant Steve Cook, who led the investigation for North Worcestershire CID, said that inquiries began in November last year when a man came forward to say that he had been sexually abused at Winterfold School by O’Brien, who taught subjects including sports and photography there in the early 1980s.

The victim informed former school friends about the investigation and that led to other victims coming forward.

Further victims, including some now living abroad, contacted the police after O’Brien was initially arrested and charged in February.

The trial heard that the offences had involved pupils who were boarding at both schools and some had taken place at O’Brien’s private residence in Oxfordshire, while he was teaching at The Oratory.

DS Cook said: “O’Brien engaged in the systematic abuse of boys over a long period of time.

"In doing so he also disgracefully abused the position of trust he was in and that was particularly relevant in this case as he was teaching in boarding schools where the children were away from their families and had nowhere else to go.

“He exploited their vulnerability and they did not feel at that time that they could come forward because ‘it wasn’t the thing to do’ and that they wouldn't be believed. Now they are extremely relieved that this has come out into the open.

“O’Brien refused to comment when we questioned him about these matters despite the growing weight of the evidence against him. It has been a further aggravating feature of the case that his denials forced his victims to go through the ordeal of testifying in court.

“The fact that some of them were prepared to travel long distances from abroad in order to do so illustrates how determined they were to expose O’Brien and I would also like to pay tribute to all the witnesses for the amazing courage they have shown in coming forward.

“Let us also not forget the wider impact this has had on friends and family and the wider community around the schools where this happened.”

“Hopefully today's outcome will help the victims in this case to move on with their lives and it will reassure other victims that even if offences of this nature are reported many years later we will still investigate thoroughly and bring those responsible to justice.”

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