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Former headteacher jailed for indecent assault

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A former school headteacher has been sentenced yesterday (11 November) after being found guilty of four counts of indecent assault against one of his former pupils.

Roger Whitehouse, 79, of Butterflowers Caravan Park, Haverigg, had denied the offences but was found guilty following a trial. The Judge invited the jury to acquit Whitehouse on five further counts and they also acquitted him on a further one. He was sentenced to 32 months in custody.

The investigation was launched as part of Cumbria Constabulary’s Operation Tweed – the investigation into non-recent abuse at residential schools in south Cumbria. Operation Tweed concluded on February 28, 2019.

The court heard how Whitehouse was headteacher at Cedar House School in the 1980s when the assaults against the pupil took place.

The victim was a girl aged 16 at the time of the offences. As well as being headteacher, Whitehouse was for a period also the victim’s Key Worker.

The court heard how, on a number of occasions, Whitehouse had kissed and groped the girl.
On most occasions, these assaults took place after Whitehouse called the girl to his office.

The victim reported how, on one occasion, she had been taken onto Whitehouse’s sailing boat when Whitehouse tried to kiss her. She feigned being sea sick to get out of the situation.

The victim recalled telling her mother about some of the assaults that had taken place and, when Whitehouse had provided a poor reference to college, the victim’s mother confronted the headteacher, demanding a better reference or else the education authority would be informed of his behaviour towards her daughter. An improved reference duly arrived.

In his police interview, Whitehouse denied any offences, saying nothing of a sexual nature had taken place, but confirmed he had been the girl’s Key Worker. He also agreed that he had been on his boat alone with the girl and that there would have been occasions when he was alone with her.

However, Whitehouse was convicted following a trial and was sentenced to 32 months in custody.

Senior Investigating Officer Doug Marshall said: “It was clear from the account provided by the victim that Whitehouse’s position as the school headteacher and as the girl’s Key Worker meant she felt she was unable to report the assaults or take any other action to prevent them.

“Whitehouse would have been well aware of the position of trust he was in as headteacher and the child’s key worker but he abused that trust multiple times in committing these offences.

“I hope the outcome of this case demonstrates how seriously Cumbria Constabulary takes this type of offending and that all victims – however long ago the offences took place – will be listened to and treated with dignity and respect.” 

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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: Former headteacher jailed for indecent assault
Former headteacher jailed for indecent assault
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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland
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