MAKO - Australian News - Stuart Sutherland

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Jail for 'lustful' teacher who breached trust
Artist impression - Stuart Sutherland in court.

Parents should have the confidence to send their children to school without fear of their being preyed on by lustful teachers, a County Court judge said yesterday.
In jailing former teacher Stuart Sutherland for a minimum of two years for having sex with a teenage student he was counselling, Judge Stuart Campbell said the issue of general deterrence for teachers in similar situations was an important one.
Sutherland, 40, of Frankston, received a maximum jail term of three years after pleading guilty to three charges of committing an indecent act and one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16.
The father of two young children, Sutherland began the affair with a 15-year-old student after counselling her for "general teenage problems".
The relationship was exposed when another teacher saw him and the girl with their pants down in a storeroom during a lunch-time liaison.
On another occasion, Sutherland picked up the girl from a suburban shopping centre after school hours and drove her to a nearby industrial estate where the pair had sex.
At an earlier hearing, Sutherland's lawyer Mark Taft said his client's conduct was not manipulative.
While Judge Campbell accepted that Sutherland was not a predator or a pedophile, the teacher at the Melbourne Catholic school - which cannot be named - knew what he was doing represented "a gross breach of trust".
Judge Campbell said he had to consider deterrence when sentencing, adding that parents with children placed trust in their teachers that should not be misplaced.
The court heard that Sutherland was an intelligent man of good character who was respected by his peers. "It's impossible not to feel sadness at the waste of a good teacher," Judge Campbell said.
Sutherland, who the court heard had no prior convictions and lived "an apparently otherwise blameless life", is now on the Victorian sex offenders' registry.
Outside court, the girl's father said it was "a good outcome".
The girl's mother said: "We're happy with the result. He got what he deserved. My daughter was a vulnerable young girl and hasn't deserved what she's had to go through."

www.theage.com.au (29-1-2005)
Jamie Berry

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