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Geography teacher Kato Harris cleared of raping pupil at Camden school

PUBLISHED: 17:37 25 July 2016 | UPDATED: 07:14 26 July 2016

Kato Harris, has been cleared of  three counts of rape

Kato Harris, has been cleared of three counts of rape

Archant

A geography teacher wept today after a jury took just 26 minutes to clear him of repeatedly raping a pupil in a classroom at a Camden school.

Kato Harris, 37, was accused of raping the teenager three times in the Autumn term of 2013 when she was 14 after inviting her into a classroom during the lunch break for chats.

Mr Harris was working as the head of geography and assistant head at the school at the time of the allegations, Isleworth Crown Court heard.

He had denied three charges of rape and said the allegations were untrue.

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.

He wept and sank to his knees as the verdicts were read out, while his supporters in the public gallery also sobbed and applauded.

The jury had heard Sally Hales, for the prosecution, claim that the pupil was raped on a Monday during lunchtime on three separate occasions in October, November and December 2013.

The schoolgirl did not tell anyone at first what had happened, the jury heard.

Instead, the incidents went “unnoticed and undetected”, the prosecution said.

The child did not make the allegations until asked by a housemistress why she was unhappy.

Ms Hales said: “It was apparent to members of staff and her housemistress that [she] was very unhappy,”

The schoolgirl confided something bad had happened to her,but she gave no details. Eventually she wrote that she had been raped and gave the note to her housemistress, the court had heard.

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.

Once in the classroom, they had a “normal” chat about school issues, she said.

Then “suddenly” Mr Harris pushed her to the floor where he raped her, pulling down her tights and underwear on all three occasions, she said.

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 receiving psychiatric treatment.

Taking the stand in his own defence, Mr Harris had dismissed the girls allegations as “completely unthinkable and impossible.”

He said the classroom where the alleged rape took place had glass panels in the door and was in full view of passers by.

He said during lunch breaks there was “frequent people traffic” around the classroom and regular patrols by staff.

Mr William Clegg, defending, said: “How feasible would it be for someone to anally rape a girl in a classroom during lunch without being observed?”

Mr Harris said: “It would be completely impossible.”

Mr Clegg said: “What would be the chance of doing that without being observed?”

The teacher replied: “It is unthinkable. It couldn’t be done.”

Mr Harris, who is currently suspended from his job at a school in Berkshire, said strict guidelines prevented staff and pupils from ever being alone together.

Asked if there was any possible motive for the girl making up the allegations he said it may have been revenge after he mocked her ‘silly face’ in a school photo.

The jury had heard staff at the school praise him as an “outstanding teacher”.

Giving evidence as a defence witness for Harris, the former headteacher 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.’

Mr Harris had also told police he was taking anxiety drug Citalopram at the time of the alleged incidents which caused a loss of libido and impotence.

Harris, of Montague Road, Richmond, was cleared of three charges of rape.

Judge Martin Edmunds QC thanked jurors for their service.

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