“I feel like I’ve finally been believed” - victim of struck off Sunderland teacher

Thornhill School, Sunderland
Thornhill School, Sunderland

A former pupil of a Sunderland teacher given a lifetime ban from classrooms after groping her and another girl has spoken of her relief at “finally being believed”.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) ruled that Paul Coxon, 53, who had been a graphics teacher at Thornhill School, should never teach again after hearing evidence about sexual touching and inappropriate comments to a number of pupils which spanned more than a decade.

One of his ex pupils, known as Pupil B at the hearing, has spoken of the trauma of reliving the incidents, but says she is glad he has finally been made accountable for his actions.

Now in her 30s, the woman was a teenage girl at the time when, the hearing heard, Mr Coxon touched her bottom on a number of occasions, asked whether she was still a virgin and gestured to his private parts asking her to “come sit on it.”

Speaking to the Echo about giving evidence at the panel, which she did via Skype interview, she said: “Although it was tearful to revisit something which happened all those years ago, I’m relieved that something’s finally been done. It feels like I’ve finally been believed.

“Though the camera was angled in a way that I couldn’t see him during the Skype evidence, there were a couple of times it panned around and it made me sick to see him.”

As well as touching her on the bottom, the panel also found it proven that he had made a number of inappropriate comments to her, including saying: “The things I want to do to you, you wouldn’t believe.”

The woman had reported the incidents to the school at the time who contacted police and, though she gave a statement to officers, no further action was taken at that time.

Though her school years were scarred by the episode, she had put it behind her until she was contacted by lawyers two years ago when further allegations about Mr Coxon were reported.

“I can look back now as a grown up and see that he severely abused his position of trust,” she said. “At the time it happened I was so confused, but I remember it vividly, I knew he shouldn’t have been doing what he was doing.

“Over the years I heard he was at the school and I was always surprised he was still there.”

The panel praised the woman for her consistent evidence throughout the hearing.

A report into the investigation reads: “She has, in our view, a clear and good memory of the events in question. She was not diverted under cross-examination, remaining powerfully consistent on all of the important issues.”

The panel also heard how he crossed professional boundaries in relation to a woman known as Pupil A who he touched, on more than one occasion, on the breasts, private parts and bottom.

They found that he had asked her whether she had ever performed a sex act and told her: “I want to be the first one to have sex with you.”

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