A former teacher has been spared jail after he admitted sexually abusing a girl at a boarding school in York.
Thomas Marriott, 37, was a history teacher at St Peter’s School on Clifton where the sexual offences occurred more than ten years ago.
He was originally charged with seven offences including two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and two of engaging in sexual activity with a child.
He denied those allegations but admitted three separate counts of sexual activity with a child when he was in a position of trust. Those offences, which encompassed five incidents, occurred over a three-week period.
The prosecution accepted his pleas and the court allowed the denied allegations to lie on file.
Prosecutor Deborah Smithies said that Marriott, now of Powys in north Wales, was in his 20s at the time of the offences and the girl was in her teens.
She said he had groomed the girl and “gained her confidence and trust” for some time before the sexual activity which included touching her on an intimate part of her body underneath her clothes.
Marriott lived in an apartment at the school at the time.
They would engage in “banter” initially, but this progressed to physical contact including hugging the girl in a “sexual manner”, stroking her wrists and kissing.
Ms Smithies said that some of the incidents occurred in Marriott’s office. On the first occasion, he hugged the girl before touching her on an intimate area.
In another incident three days later, he started “checking” the underwear she was wearing before carrying her onto a desk where sexual activity occurred.
Ms Smithies said that days later, Marriott invited the girl to visit him and when she arrived, he “presented her with strawberries and cream and ginger ale” and talked about how they had not properly kissed yet.
It’s alleged that Marriott and the victim, who can’t be named for legal reasons, then performed sexual acts on each other. There were three other occasions when Marriott touched the girl sexually under her clothes.
‘Ruined my life’
The victim, now an adult, said it wasn’t until years later that she realised she had been manipulated by Marriott.
She finally came forward to police in November 2021 when Marriott, now of Churchstoke, Montgomery, was arrested and bailed pending further enquiries.
She said she had undergone counselling and therapy sessions for severe emotional problems caused by the sexual offences more than a decade ago.
She said it had “ruined my life” and led to problems with her physical health. She became “incredibly depressed” to the point where she wanted to take her own life and it had affected her career.
In a statement read out in court, she spoke of the “legacy of abuse, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and total emotional breakdown” which she had suffered due to the incidents at the school.
She said her emotional development “stopped dead” in her teens and “remained frozen in time for a decade” and that she had endured a lasting “nightmare”.
She now “realised with horror” that Marriott had manipulated her for his own sexual gain.
Defence barrister Helen Chapman said that character references attested to Marriott’s otherwise unblemished teaching career which now lay in ruins.
His arrest and subsequent criminal conviction had had a profound impact on his family and he stood to lose his present employment if he were jailed.
She said that Marriott, a married father-of-one, was truly remorseful and he had “already been punished to some extent in having to leave his profession in some disgrace”.
Recorder Taryn Turner said it was clear from the victim’s “harrowing” statement that she had been left a “very troubled” individual, although there were signs that she was now finally beginning to “piece together the fractured life that she had before”.
She said there had been grooming of the victim, but that Marriott was “unquestionably, truly remorseful” and was of otherwise “exemplary character”.
She told Marriott: “You have lost your status as a teacher and it has had a huge impact, not only on your life but also your family. It’s extremely unlikely that you will reoffend in a like manner or indeed at all.”
Mrs Turner said that for those reasons she could suspend the inevitable prison sentence.
The 21-month jail term was suspended for two years but Marriott was ordered to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for ten years.
He was also made to carry out 180 hours’ unpaid work and complete a 20-day rehabilitation-activity course.
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