School helper assaulted children: Sixty pupils believed to have been sexually abused by nursery assistant

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The Independent Online
PARENTS of up to 60 children are considering suing a council after a student working at two nursery schools admitted indecently assaulting youngsters.

Newcastle upon Tyne Crown Court was told parents were taking legal advice after Jason Dabbs, 21, admitted nine charges and asked for three similar offences to be taken into consideration. Another eight charges were ordered to remain on file. All offences related to four- and five-year-old boys and girls at two city schools where Dabbs, a college student, was sent for work experience.

The cases referred to in court accounted for just a portion of the abuse complaints from 60 children, between September 1991 and July 1992.

John Evans, for the prosecution, said the Crown had decided to accept guilty pleas on only nine charges instead of pursuing a lengthy trial involving all the children.

'The decision was made for humanitarian reasons to avoid exposing children to the further trauma of having to repeat their experiences and being cross-examined. This will not affect the redress sought against the local authority by the parents, many of whom, if not all, are taking legal advice.'

The judge, Mr Justice Holland, remanded Dabbs, of no fixed address, in custody to await pre-sentence reports.

Afterwards, Tony Flynn, chairman of the city council's education committee, pledged that an independent inquiry would be held and the findings made public after completion of the court proceedings.

He said: 'I am deeply concerned at the distress caused to these young children and their parents. I understand and share the anger felt by the parents and am determined to find out what happened at the earliest stage.'

Police took months to gather evidence against Dabbs, with specially-trained officers spending hours trying to glean information from children without upsetting them.

The mother of one of the four- year-old girls abused by Dabbs said: 'My little girl suffered a lot of terrible after-effects from what that monster put her through. She had nightmares, began bed-wetting and started having behavioural problems.

'She has been seeing a child psychologist and thankfully seems to be getting better. But who knows what lasting scars this has left our children with? It has had a devastating effect on the whole family. Everyone becomes a victim.

'Money is not the issue with the parents. We just want to stop this ever happening again. We are planning to sue on the grounds of negligence by the education authority. We are not happy that the vetting system for nursery assistants or anyone employed to look after children gives adequate protection.'

(Photograph omitted)