Wellington College teacher Bruce Roth guilty of sex abuse of five boys


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The Independent Online

A teacher at one of the country's most prestigious public schools has been found guilty of sexually abusing five young boys.

Bruce Roth, who taught maths at £30,000-a-year Wellington College until he was arrested, groomed and performed sex acts on three boys at the boarding school and two at King's School in Rochester, Kent, where he taught previously.

Roth strenuously denied the 17 charges against him, accusing his victims of conspiring against him because they did not like him as a teacher and calling one of them "sinister".

He remained impassive in the dock, apart from occasionally shaking his head, as the jury of six men and six women at Reading Crown Court returned their guilty verdicts on all counts after just over 18 hours of deliberation.

A woman in the public gallery burst into tears as they were read out.

The trial heard that two complaints were made against Roth over claims that he sexually touched one boy and repeatedly abused another, both aged between eight and 10, while an assistant housemaster at King's School between 1987 and 1994.

But the accusations were dropped - the second time following an internal investigation. He left the school and went to Wellington, where he taught until 2010.

Wellington College counts broadcaster Peter Snow, comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner, pop star Will Young and journalist and author Sebastian Faulks among its alumni.

Roth was jailed for a total of 11 years.

Two of Roth's victims were just eight when they were abused at King's School.

The Wellington victims were teenagers, some from vulnerable backgrounds. One tried to commit suicide because of Roth's attacks.

In each case there was a clear progression from grooming though to sexual touching and performing sex acts on the boys.

Judge Simon Davis described Roth as a "plausible, intelligent man", who was capable of being highly manipulative.

His behaviour at the college in Crowthorne may have been shaped by his being exonerated of wrongdoing at the previous school in Kent, the judge said.

"You have impressed some schoolboys, some parents, some teachers in high and influential positions, who are all convinced you are a good, kind and pastoral teacher, a professional man," he added.

"You have a number of other sides to your character besides those.

"I find you do have an interest in young boys/men in their adolescent years. A worrying facet in these proceedings."

Judge Davis attacked Roth for what he said were attempts to character assassinate his victims in what he said was a "sad and dreadful case".

"In the face of clear evidence from all five complainants, you maintained first to the police and then to this court that each and every one of the allegations of which you have been convicted were fabricated," he said.

"You were not able to deceive this jury.

"Your choice, namely to contest the case, meant that every individual complainant came to this court to relive the events to which you had subjected them over the past 20 years or so.

"As the law presently stands I am not able to penalise you for putting those witnesses through the ordeal of giving evidence.

"For some it was evident to me that it was more of a horrendous experience than others."