A judge is facing harsh criticism for giving a suspended sentence to a forty four year old teacher after being found guilty of having sex with his sixteen year old pupil, the reason? The judge chose to place blame on the incident on the girl, claiming that she ‘groomed’ her teacher.
Stuart Kerner, the man in question, had a sexual relationship with one of his students that ran for over a year, beginning when the girl was only fifteen. From accounts given during the court proceedings Kerner took the girls virginity on school grounds and had sex with her at both their homes.
Instead of facing prison time, however, judge Joanna Greenberg QC chose to give him an eighteen month suspended sentence, placing full blame on the young girl, claiming that Kerner only ‘gave in to temptation’ because of the strain of his wife having had a miscarriage. Greenberg said the following;
‘Her friends described her, accurately in my view, as stalking you. There is no evidence you encouraged her in any way. There is no evidence you groomed her. If anything it was she who groomed you. You gave way to temptation because of problems with your wife’s pregnancy. She was intelligent and used that intelligence to manipulate people emotionally. She was very vulnerable and needy and had a troubled home life.’
Yes, that’s right. The girl who was fifteen when she first slept with Kerner was the predator here. Somehow a fully mature forty four year old man, a man who was responsible for the education of teenagers was somehow masterfully seduced into bed by a child multiple times over more than a year.
However, the offence of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust is principally designed to protect young people ages between sixteen and seventeen, people who might be over the legal age of sexual consent but are still considered to be vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. Particularly when involving a person who holds a position of trust or authority over them, such as a teacher. In simple terms, a sixteen year old girl cannot groom a grown man!
What has happened here is that judge Greenberg has simply blamed the victim for having suffered the abuse. Her comments support massively damaging beliefs that sexual assault, which this was even is it was consensual due to her age, are to blame. It makes out that victims of assault are in some way leading their attackers on, and that their attackers are only making a lapse of judgement rather than engaging in a heinous crime.
The judge blames the victim, she blames the stress of his wife loosing their child. She blames everyone and everything other than the one person who is solely to blame for the crime. If a child comes up to you and flirts with you, you do not ‘give in’. If a child acts provocative around you, you do not ‘give in’. If a child tells you they want to have sex with you, you do not ‘give in’. If a child stands in front of you naked and begs for you to have sex with them you do not ‘give in’.
Even if Kerner had only slept with his victim the one time it would not constitute to having been groomed or a lack of judgement, but sleeping with her multiple times over the course of a year, at school, at his home, in her bedroom is massive evidence that he was grooming her.
He found out that one of his students had sexual urges towards him and took advantage of that. He manipulated her into thinking that it was okay, He abused his position of trust and responsibility and did something deplorable. And because of this one judge and their archaic views on sexual assault he gets to walk free. Yes, he looses his job and has been placed on a sex offenders list, but he deserves a hell of a lot more than that.
As for the judge herself? She needs to be taught that blaming the victim is never, ever right. By doing so not only are you telling all victims of sexual assault that it’s their fault for what happened to them, you’re also telling people that it’s okay to rape, to force people into situations they don’t want to be in and manipulate children into bed because it won’t be your fault, you’ll just be ‘giving way to temptation’.