£19,500 pledged to help Camden schoolteacher cleared of raping teenager pay £195,000 legal bill
PUBLISHED: 15:43 01 August 2016 | UPDATED: 17:22 01 August 2016
Supporters of a Camden school teacher cleared of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old pupil have launched a fundraising drive to pay for his £195,000 legal costs and help him "rebuild his life."
Kato Harris, 37, was working as the head of geography and assistant head at the school at the time of the allegations.
A jury of seven men and five women at Isleworth Crown Court took just 26 minutes to find Mr Harris not guilty of three counts of rape.
Friends of the teacher, who was suspended from his job at a school in Berkshire after being accused of rape, have set up the crowdfunding page which has already raised £19,500.
Sarah Tate, who set up the page, wrote: “The accusations levelled against him were found to be impossible. This is a case that should never have come to court.
“Kato has been living a nightmare for over a year, unable to do the job he loves, terrified that he would be jailed as the result of a false accusation.
“Now, justice has been done, but at a heavy cost. Kato has spent his life savings of £10,000 in paying legal costs for his defence, and is left with a debt of £195,000.
“Kato has no hope of paying this debt. This page is set up by his friends, who desperately want to help Kato rebuild his life.”
They say that one the debt is covered surplus donation will go towards a charity for victims of sexual abuse.
As reported in the Ham&High, Mr Harris wept and sank to his knees as the verdicts were read out, while his supporters in the public gallery also sobbed and applauded.
Speaking outside court the teacher said: “The last 20 months have put massive stress on my family.
“There is a beautiful world out there and for 20 months I’ve been terrified of it, and I’ve been hiding from it.”
“I’m now going into it a good man, and a free man.”
The court had heard the pupil claim she was raped on a Monday during lunchtime on three separate occasions in October, November and December 2013.
The jury had been shown several filmed police interviews with the schoolgirl where she described the alleged rapes.
She claimed she was walking down the corridor on each occasion when Mr Harris asked to see her in the geography classroom, where he pushed her to the floor and raped her, pulling down her tights and underwear.
The jury was told that the girl suffered from panic attacks before the alleged incidents.
Afterwards she began to experience an increased number of panic attacks and was travelling to America for psychiatric treatment.
The jury had heard staff at the school praise Mr Harris as an “outstanding teacher”.
Giving evidence as a defence witness for Harris, the former headmistress at the school said the accusations were “unbelievable”, adding: “He did his job extremely well. He was a passionate geographer. Every day he had a packed classroom.
“As a teacher, he was outstanding, bordering on brilliant. Pupils adored his lessons.
“If I were still a headteacher, I would employ him in a heartbeat.”