‘Sexually aggressive’ ex-teacher jailed for targeting vulnerable teenagers for sex | #teacher | #children | #kids

A “sexually aggressive” and “persistent” assistant headteacher who targeted vulnerable teenage girls for sex and requested explicit images and videos from them has been jailed.

Richard Cottyn, of Forres Avenue, Sheffield, used “lies, trickery and deception” to elicit naked photographs and videos of girls, aged between 14 and 17.

The 36-year-old frequently adopted the name ‘Jason’ and claimed he was 20-years-old on various social media platforms and dating apps to conceal his identity.

He targeted dozens of girls between 2013 and 2017 – many of whom had mental health problems – for sexual purposes, demonstrating “grooming behaviour”.

On one occasion, he met and sexually abused a teenage girl for hours in his car, pulling her bra down and “kissing her in places that she wished he didn’t kiss her”.

With numerous other girls, he was “persistent and sexual in asking for pictures”; repeatedly asked to meet for sex, and discussed taking their virginity, Guildford Crown Court heard.

To one girl, he sent the following message: “Hope I can see more of that lovely body sometime. Would love to be the one to take your V [virginity] – would be a real honour”.

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Following his initial arrest in September 2017, officers uncovered “a great swathe” of explicit chat logs and images, some of which he took and distributed without the victims’ knowledge.

He sent more than 1,700 messages to one victim over a period of three months, repeatedly asking for sexual pictures because “he can’t help it if he finds her attractive”.

To another, he sent nearly one thousand messages – she was 15 years old throughout the chats.

He was further arrested in June 2018 for offences relating to meeting children and an indecent image offence. Officers seized a phone belonging to him, which contained over 2,500 chat logs.

The former Surrey assistant headteacher, who was married at the time of the offences, appeared at Guildford Crown Court for sentencing on Friday (November 20), charged with 31 sex offences.

Richard Cottyn is now behind bars

He was initially charged with 90 separate offences relating to 32 victims. However, the charges were subsequently condensed into 31 indictments.

Prosecutor Oliver Dunkin said Cottyn used “stock phrases” when talking to his victims, and acted like “a lovesick teenage boy pining and trying to persuade the love of his life to have him”.

He frequently sent erotic, naked images of himself to young girls and asked for ones in return. However, if they refused, he would “sulk” and say they “made him sad”.

Mr Dunkin added: “A particularly aggravating feature of this offending is the use of lies, trickery and deception by Richard Cottyn in his dealings with all girls.

“Often this comes under the cloak of concern for their school lives, their love lives and ultimately their sex lives, experiences or virginity.

“We have seen above how that deception extends to hiding his identity, his age, his occupation, even his sex in order to get into conversation with these children a generation below his own.

“They are children of an age taught by him in his working life, aware as he undoubtedly was of his position at work of responsibility for the welfare and wellbeing of his students.”

Defending the case, Wendy Miller explained that, prior to his arrest, Cottyn, who has two children, had no previous convictions and has committed no further offences while on bail.

She said the “loving father” has “come to terms with his fate” and has accepted that his offences are a “serious example of grooming, exploitation and gross breach of trust”.

In a letter read aloud in court, Cottyn said: “I wish to formally state the huge regret and remorse I feel at the wide-ranging consequences of my actions, in terms of breaking the law and causing a large amount of pain for a significant number of people.

“Reading the victim impact statements recently was a humbling experience. Before this, I could only imagine the suffering I had caused to many people I had hurt.”

Judge Rufus Taylor sentenced Cottyn to a total of eight years in prison for the offences. He also issued a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and deprivation order for two iPhones and two laptops.

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‘Cottyn abused his position of trust to carry out an appallingly large catalogue of offences’

Detective Constable James Tibbs, from Surrey Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team, said: “Cottyn abused his position of authority as a teacher to target vulnerable young girls under the guise of offering them emotional support.

“Using extremely manipulative behaviour, he met some of his victims for a sexual purpose. Hundreds of indecent images, including of the girls he communicated with, were found on his various devices.

“When Cottyn’s predatory behaviour came to light we launched an investigation which uncovered the huge scale of his offending.”

An NSPCC spokesperson added: “As a teacher, Cottyn abused his position of trust to carry out an appallingly large catalogue of offences on young people.

“Children are in need of more protection from such dangerous individuals. This is why we are urging the Government to publish its Online Harms Bill which will force tech companies to design in safety measures for all the young people who use their platforms.”

The NSPCC helpline is available for adults to contact confidentially for help and advice about non-recent abuse on 0808 800 5000, or via help@nspcc.org.uk. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk.


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