Jury out in sex text teacher case

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The Independent Online

The jury in the trial of a teacher accused of sexually grooming one of his teenage pupils at a private all-girls school started a second day of deliberations today.

IT supply teacher John Cope, 44, is alleged to have exchanged flirty messages and chatted online and on the phone with the girl while he was a teacher at Brighton and Hove High School in East Sussex.

Lewes Crown Court heard that topics of conversation between the teacher and his pupil allegedly included oral sex, the loss of Cope's virginity at the age of 15 and flavoured condoms.

In one text, the girl told Cope about the need for her to lose weight, to which he is said to have replied: "We can find another way for you to burn calories".

The exchanges are alleged to have started when the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, confided in him that she "fancied someone she shouldn't" and he guessed she meant him.

Instead of behaving responsibly, he actively encouraged her and told the girl that he felt the same way, the court heard.

Prosecutor Jonathan Davies said Cope abused the trust placed in him to form a relationship with the girl, which he intended to lead to sexual activity between them.

However, their relationship never progressed to this stage as the girl's parents found out about what was going on.

During his defence Cope denied planning to groom the girl as a future sexual partner and told jurors that he only wanted to help the teenager through a troubled phase.

He said he could offer no explanation why he exchanged risque text messages with her, but admitted that he should have cut contact with her sooner.

He was sacked from the school where he was employed by an agency following his arrest on May 20 last year.

Cope, of Stow Road, Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, denies sexual grooming and two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity between January last year and May last year.