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Teacher accused of raping girl in classroom said she held a grudge against him

PUBLISHED: 11:53 22 July 2016 | UPDATED: 12:00 22 July 2016

Kato Harris, has been cleared of  three counts of rape

Kato Harris, has been cleared of three counts of rape

Archant

A teacher today told a jury that a 15-year-old schoolgirl who accused him of raping her in a classroom at her Camden school held a grugde against him after he commented on her “silly face” in a school photograph.

Geography teacher Kato Harris wept as a jury cleared him of all chargesGeography teacher Kato Harris wept as a jury cleared him of all charges

Kato Harris, 37, is accused of committing three acts of rape in the autumn term of 2013.

He was head of geography and an assistant head at the Camden school.

Harris denies all charges and took to the witness stand today in his own defence.

He said the ill feeling resulted after he was looking at a school photograph on a wall in the corridor with another teacher when he made comments about the girl.

He told the jury: “She was pulling a silly face in the school photograph and I said: ‘oh dear, there is always one looking silly.’

“She found out I had said that and appeared to be quite resentful about it because other girls teased her about me having done that.”

Cross examining Mr Harris, Sally Hales, prosecuting, said: “You suspect someone overheard you and told the girl about it and since then she has harboured resentment?”

Mr Harris replied: “Yes”.

The teacher, who is currently suspended from his job at a school in Berkshire, is accused of raping the pupil on a Monday during lunchtime on three separate occasions in October, November and December 2013.

But Mr Harris 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.

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 Clegg asked the teacher whether there was specific guidance at the school about being alone in a classroom with a female pupil.

The teacher replied: “Yes. To try to avoid that happening as far as logically and practically possible.”

But he said, if alone with a female pupil,: “We were told it was best to be visible to anyone in the corridor when standing or sitting in the classroom.”

Mr Harris said there was a geography club in the classroom, C14, during lunch breaks which he or another teacher supervised and girls would eat their packed lunches and hang out in the classrooms during break. There was also always a teacher on patrol.

Mr Clegg said: “Did you rape (the alleged victim)?”

Mr Harris said: “No”.

Mr Harris had told police he had been on the anti-anxiety drug Citalopram at the time of the alleged crimes resulting in impotence and a loss of libido and that he was still taking the drug.

But Ms Hales said: “At the time of your arrest you referred to the fact that your partner was pregnant. The baby was conceived while taking Citalopram.

“I am going to suggest that the Citalopram you were taking was not such to render you incapable of committing this offence.

Mr Harris answered: “I dispute that.”

But Ms Hales continued: “You were in school on all the days identified. Your presence in the corridor at lunchtime would not have resulted in an inquiry by anyone.

“You have exaggerated the extent that this part of the school was busy at lunchtime.

“I suggest you took (the alleged victim) into C14 where you anally raped her on the floor in a blind spot that could not be seen from the corridor.

Mr Harris said: “I did not rape her anywhere ever”

The court heard from fellow teachers at the school who described Mr Harris as “an exemplary teacher.”

The former headmistress who appointed him head of Geography, said: “Kato was a committed member of staff and extremely reliable, honest and hardworking.

She dismissed the pupil’s allegations as “unbelievable.”

The school’s former deputy head said: “He is a very good, excellent teacher who had a love of his subject. He was absolutely inspirational, an excellent teacher in every way.

She said: “He had a very personable nature.” and described him as: “A very well-dressed and upright figure.”

When asked her view on the allegations she said: “It does not fit at all”

The case continues.

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