A talented pianist who began having sex with an underage student admitted it was wrong and said he was “ruining her childhood and innocence”, court documents reveal.
The Sydney music teacher, 32, faced the NSW District Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to six counts of having sexual intercourse with a person under 16, three counts of indecent assault of a person under 16 and two of committing an act of indecency with a person under 16.
The illicit relationship was laid bare in court, with the teacher telling the girl via Facebook messages that he knew he was breaking the law through their secret sexual encounters.
Judge Andrew Scotting told the court the offences occurred when he was 18-19 and the girl was 14-15.
The court was told the pair connected on Facebook when the teacher was a student at the same school, and later began to meet up.
He was more than four years older than the girl, and the pair kissed for the first time in a music practice room at the school.
A Sydney music teacher has been sentenced for having sex with a 14-year-old student. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift
“After the victim’s 14th birthday, the offender began to kiss her on the head and cheeks,” Judge Scotting told the court.
“They would cuddle and she would sit on his lap when they were practising.”
The teacher quickly became distressed about the relationship, telling the girl he was becoming “too attached to her”.
She asked what was “so bad” about getting attached to her and he responded: “The fact that you’re more than four years younger than me.”
He would often compliment her on her intelligence but conceded she was “still a kid” and warned her to “be careful”.
Judge Scotting told the court the pair declared their love to each other, while the teacher told her he wanted their relationship to remain platonic.
“I’m sorry it’s gotten this far. You’re way too young,” he wrote in one message.
The teacher, who still had a girlfriend, admitted their sexual relationship was inappropriate.
“To put it bluntly, I’m starting to kill your childhood and your innocence. And I’m distorting your development,” he said.
The girl said she knew what was happening but she didn’t care, according to court documents.
Judge Scotting told the court the relationship first turned sexual when the pair met in a music practice room, with the victim straddling the teacher’s lap.
The sexual activity continued – on school grounds – and later the pair began to meet off campus at the teacher’s home.
The teacher became increasingly worried about people finding out about his relationship with the girl, saying anyone who knew was a “liability”.
She confessed she told two people and he said he would prefer if she didn’t, but the pair eventually became close with each other’s family.
The teacher first visited the girl’s home when her parents were not there and asked her to perform oral sex, but she told him she didn’t know how.
He began to research the laws surrounding sexual engagement with a minor, admitting he knew he could get arrested and jailed for “everything we’ve done”.
Judge Scotting told the court the relationship became more public once she turned 17, with the teacher accompanying her to school events and parties. The relationship continued for three years.
Their last sexual encounter was when the teacher was 23, with their relationship ending soon after.
Judge Scotting told the court almost seven years after ending the relationship, the girl went to police.
She agreed to call the teacher in a lengthy telephone conversation, where he was unaware police were listening in.
“During the conversation he made admissions they engaged in an unlawful relationship,” Judge Scotting said.
The court heard he knew what he was doing was wrong but did it anyway. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
“He agreed he pressured her into doing things of a sexual nature … he knew it was not legally permissible.”
Judge Scotting told the court the teacher apologised to the victim multiple times and said he wished “none of it happened”.
When questioned by police, the teacher recognised the seriousness of what he had done, knowing how much it had now impacted the victim.
He also described some of the sexual conduct as “horrible”.
During sentencing, Judge Scotting told the court the teacher suffered throughout his childhood and has been recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and adjustment disorder.
The court heard the teacher told a doctor he didn’t consider the non penetrative sexual encounters to be harmful or wrong, with the Judge saying this reasoning relates to his disorders.
“His rationalisation and narrow understanding of sexual behaviour was consistent with thinking in autism spectrum disorder, and he continued to engage after discovering it was illegal,” the judge said.
“He thought he was doing no harm which is related to autism spectrum disorder.”
The judge said the offending was not isolated and occurred in the context of a sexual relationship, where both considered themselves to be in love.
Judge Scotting said the victim was academically advanced and mature for her age, and the offences were not sophisticated.
He said the girl also was no longer in the music industry, as she found it too “triggering”.
“He (the teacher) has suffered extra curial punishment due to publicity and has lost face in the classical music community,” the judge said.
The teacher was sentenced to a community corrections order for three years and has been ordered to remain within a 50km radius of his home for one year.
He will also have to complete 275 hours of community service.