University College School housemaster Geoffrey Plow ‘repeatedly molested two pupils’, jury hears.
- Credit: Polly Hancock
A housemaster from University College School in Hampstead repeatedly sexually assaulted one pupil in class over a five year period and another pupil on two separate occasions, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.
Dr Geoffrey Plow, 58, is on trial for two counts of sexual assault and two of indecent assault against the two former pupils at the renowned private school in Forgnal, which he denies.
The jury at Blackfriars Crown Court watched a police video interview conducted last year with the elder of the alleged victims before the witness took the stand to give evidence.
The former pupil, now aged 30, claimed he was “cupped” on the bottom and stroked on the thighs multiple times by Dr Plow over a five year period from 1999 to 2003 when the schoo, which now admits girls, was all-boys.
These assaults happened when the boy was aged between 13 and 18, usually in full view of other pupils during lessons at the £18,500 a year school, the court heard.
In the police interview, the alleged victim said the first incident happened in class, when the teacher firmly cupped his bottom and ran his hand down his thigh to his knee.
He told police: “The first time, it took me by surprise. I wasn’t happy about it…it felt uncomfortable.”
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After that, the court heard Dr Plow would regularly touch the boy on the bottom and thighs when he walked past him.
He said he tried to make light of the incidents and that when he was called to write on the whiteboard, he would “try and run” past Dr Plow to avoid being touched.
He said that although he excelled in the subject, he gave it up to try to avoid Dr Plow – but still had contact with the teacher.
The court heard the touching never extended to the boy’s genitals, and never took place completely in private.
The witness said he finally decided to go to the police after he was sexually assaulted by a stranger in an unconnected incident in 2013, which brought memories of his school days and Dr Plow flooding back.
Under cross-examination by defence barrister Ross Johnson, it was suggested that he “had a dream” about Dr Plow and that his memory of what happened at the school “has been exaggerated out of all proportion”.
The court heard the boy had complained to his mother about Dr Plow touching him when he was “about 13” but that she hadn’t taken him seriously.
He told the court that he might not have realised at the time that Dr Plow’s behaviour was abusive because he said: “I was bullied, I was sensitive, I was very naïve.”
And he told the court: “Soon after the incidents occurred, I found ways of coping with it…so I would go to my parents’ liquor cabinet or I would smoke weed.”
He said that after the sexual assault by a stranger in 2013: “Literally, all my school days came flooding back to me in one full swoop”.
But he said it took “two years of therapy and group therapy before I had the balls to report him”.
Dr Plow had been a teacher at the school for three decades when the allegations were made against him in July last year.
The court heard the second alleged victim had complained to the school about Dr Plow touching him inappropriately when he was a pupil there – but the matter was dealt with internally, and only resurfaced after the historic allegations were made.
The two complainants were not contemporaries at the school and prosecuting barrister James Lofthouse said they did not know each other and had “no reason to lie” about Dr Plow.
Dr Plow, of Granville Place in Middlesex, denies all charges. The trial continues.