Teacher accused of sex assault on 15yo on way back to school

A TEACHER who was accused of sexually assaulting a 15 year-old girl and a 44 year-old woman while on holidays at a resort spa has been cleared to apply for re-registration. 

The clearance came in a  decision by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, handed down on December 21, after it ruled that the man was suffering an episode caused by a schizoaffective disorder when the alleged offences occurred.

In October 2014 the teacher had been charged with two counts of sexual assault in relation to the alleged incidents in which police said he touched a 44 year-old woman on the buttocks and put his hand between the upper legs of a 15 year-old girl.

However the matter was referred to the Mental Health Court on the basis that the man was suffering from an acute phase of a schizoaffective disorder. 

In December 2015 the Mental Health Court ordered that the police charges be withdrawn.

The Queensland Teachers College had begun disciplinary proceedings aimed at removing the teacher's licence in June 2016 however by December last year had received new information from the man's lawyers that he had undergone comprehensive treatment for his illness. 

A decision by QCAT member Paul Kanowski explained the College could not withdraw its disciplinary proceedings against the teacher without first applying to a court. 

And after considering reports from the teacher's treating psychiatrist, Mr Kanowski found there was no need for his licence to be removed. 

"The reports indicate that the teacher has had schizoaffective disorder for many years," Mr Kanowski wrote in his decision.  

"The treating psychiatrist has been treating the teacher, who is now 46, for more than 25 years.

"There have been several hospital admissions over the years but the teacher's condition had been stable for four years prior to the assaults despite a low dose of his anti-psychotic medication."

It was noted that the teacher's dosage of medication was reduced so he could work at a school part-time and also do farm work and his family had taken a holiday because his condition had begun to deteriorate. 

"At the time he was experiencing auditory hallucinations and delusional beliefs that the complainants wanted him to touch them," Mr Kanowski wrote in his judgment. 

He said the teacher had been stable since early 2015 and his psychiatrist had: "expressed the opinion that a return to teaching would not place students at risk of physical or psychological harm".

However while the Teachers College indicated it was happy for him to return to work its lawyers said a condition would be placed on the teacher's licence when he applied for re-registration.

The judgment noted the teacher: "has been doing farm work but he wishes to return to the teaching profession."

Mr Kanowski also explained his decision to suppress the teacher's identity.  

"In circumstances where the teacher was not criminally responsible for the assaults because of mental illness, and the disciplinary referral is being discontinued, it would be unfair for the teacher's identity to be publicised," Mr Kanowski wrote.