Las Naciones primary school in Vélez-Málaga / E. Cabezas

Sixteen year jail sentence for Vélez-Málaga teacher accused of sexual abuse

According to the Andalusian High Court of Justice (TSJA) the man, who is in his 60s, would sit female pupils on his lap to pretend to tickle them

IRENE QUIRANTE MALAGA.

A teacher working at Las Naciones primary school in Vélez-Málaga has been given a 16-year prison sentence after being found guilty of sexually abusing female pupils in his classes.

According to the Andalusian High Court of Justice (TSJA), for three years running the man, who is in his 60s, would sit the pupils on his lap to pretend to tickle them, or he would approach them from behind when they were sitting at their desks and pretend to hug them.

The TSJA convicted the teacher of four crimes of continuous sexual abuse of four children under 16 years of age and dismissed an appeal lodged by the defence against the sentence handed down by Malaga’s provincial court.

Gifts and exam answers

The abuse happened between 2016 and 2019, from the time the victims entered the third year of primary school until the sixth year. All of the girls were between eight and nine years old when the abuse started.

The court described how the teacher addressed the girls with sexual expressions or asked them not to have boyfriends. He pretended to tickle them, both by sitting them on his lap or hugged them, with the aim of touching their private parts. He also gave gifts to the victims as well as the answers to exams.

As a result, the pupils suffered from anxiety disorders, nervousness and felt uncomfortable about going to school. One of the girls had sleeping difficulties and trichotillomania (the loss of hair caused by pulling and twisting it until it fell out).

It was this victim who raised the alarm when she told her parents about what was happening to her in class. At this point the girl’s mother reported the teacher to the police. The man was arrested by the National Police and the proceedings started in November 2019.

Complaints to the school

According to the court report, in December 2018 the mothers of other students had been to talk to the head teacher about “an excessively affectionate attitude towards the girls and discriminatory treatment towards the boys".

No minutes were taken of that meeting, but the complaints of the parents were conveyed to the accused, to which he answered that he would not continue with his displays of affection. Months later, in May 2019, two mothers spoke again with the head of the school about the teacher's behaviour.

On this occasion, the head teacher agreed to speak to the teacher again and to monitor his behaviour with a view to reporting it to the school inspection service. However, it was decided that his role as class teacher should not be changed. Other mothers at the same school also spoke out in defence of the teacher, believing that his overly affectionate treatment of some of the girls was nothing serious.

In addition to the 16-year prison sentence, the accused is banned from any job, paid of unpaid, involving direct contact with children for seven years after serving the prison service. He has also been ordered to pay three of the minors with 10,000 euros each; and 15,000 euros for the fourth. The Junta de Andalucía is responsible for paying the compensation.