The lawyer representing a former pupil abused at St George’s School has called on the Government to renew efforts for mandatory reporting in schools
Former French teacher, Gerald Singer, was sentenced today to a total of 21 years in prison, with a further eight years on licence, after being found guilty of 27 counts of sexual abuse upon eight former pupils at St George's school in Stowmarket.
Singer (69) is the third former member of staff from St George's to be convicted of sexual abuse following the convictions of head teacher Derek Slade in 2010 and maths teacher Alan Brigden in 2012. Another member of staff committed suicide after being questioned by police.
Singer was found guilty in July this year of sexually abusing children between 1978 and 1981, including one as young as nine years old.
Singer fled his position as a languages teacher at the school in 1981 after receiving a warning from senior staff members that his abusive acts were to be exposed.
He had been living in France and it transpired during the criminal trial that Mr Singer had been convicted of sexual aggression on children whilst teaching there in the 1990s.
Andrew Lord from the abuse team at Leigh Day, who is representing a victim of Singer in a civil claim against the school, said:
“It seems clear that there were systemic failures which permitted the prolific abuse of children by multiple former staff members at St George’s school.
“The convictions against Singer and Slade provide a very clear example of why mandatory reporting by schools and other institutions is necessary to ensure perpetrators don't evade justice by moving between schools in this country and abroad.
“Our client still has unanswered questions surrounding who knew what about the abuse and why more wasn’t done to ensure the welfare of the pupils at the school.”
During the criminal trial the prosecution suggested that Mr Singer would befriend pupils before subjecting them to sexual abuse.
St. George’s School was subject to a large-scale police investigation in 2009, and since then several former staff members have faced criminal investigations. In 2010 former head teacher, Derek Slade, was convicted of a multitude of child abuse offences and later died in prison.
The presiding judge described Mr Singer as somebody with “an entrenched propensity” to abuse young boys.
In his victim impact statement, the man currently being represented by Leigh Day, said:
"The life of a child is supposed to be a time of fun, adventure, learning and being carefree. Teachers including Mr Singer tainted my childhood which has affected my life over the past 35 years. Mr Singer’s selfish and self-indulgent actions have made me question everything in the years since he abused my trust.”
Later on in the statement, he concluded:
“When he abused me in 1981 he wasn't thinking about me and how his actions would have a lasting effect on my life. Mr Singer was only thinking of himself and how his depravity would affect himself.”