A teacher convicted of child abduction after fleeing to France with a 15-year-old pupil was jailed for five and a half years after he also admitted five counts of sexual activity with a child. The convicted pedophile, Jeremy Forrest has said that he wants to marry his teenage victim, who says that she loves him and would also like to marry.
The 30 year-old Forrest, who was a maths teacher, prompted an international police hunt after he and the teenager went on the run for just over a week in France during September 2012. He faced only the single charge of child abduction during his trial at Lewes crown court.
On Friday Judge Michael Lawson QC sentenced the married maths teacher to four and a half years for sexual activity with a child and one further year for child abduction. The sentences will run consecutively giving Forrest a grand total of five and a half years. The ex-maths teacher has already spent nine months on remand.
Judge Lawson also imposed a sexual offences prevention order which permanently bans Forrest from working or volunteering with children or having unsupervised contact with children.
His victim, who can’t be named for legal reasons, told the court that she and Forrest began having sex shortly after her 15th birthday. He was not initially charged with sex offences for legal reasons linked to his extradition from France. This information could not be previously reported.
Sentencing the 33 year-old Forrest, Judge Lawson told him he had chosen to “ignore the cardinal rule of teaching” by never even attempting to maintain the proper boundaries between himself and the girl. By taking the teenager to France he had subjected her family to “appalling distress.” The judge also said that Forrest’s actions had forced the girl to relive her private life in the glare of publicity.
The judge questioned the evidence that Forrest’s teenage victim gave in court as it varied from her original police interviews and now fit with Forrest’s defence that he took her to France to prevent her from killing herself.
Lawson told Forrest, “You have contested the abduction charge, raising a spurious defence so that she had to give evidence, evidence very different in content from her original account and designed to support it.”
Law enforcement officials have confirmed that they are investigating whether Forrest contacted the girl to alter how she gave evidence at his trial.
Further news about the convicted Forrest came to light today after his 33 year-old sister talked to the Mail On Sunday a British newspaper and told them that Forrest actually plans to marry the girl. Ms Hanspaul said that Forrest told his parents during a prison visit that, “I love her and we want to get married.”
The teenage victim of Jeremy Forrest says she loves the ex-teacher and that she is determined to continue her relationship with him. In a shocking turn of events, her father told The Sun newspaper on Sunday that he approved of her plans to see him in prison, saying he would like to visit the 30 year-old ex-teacher as well.
The teenage girl’s father spoke to the tabloid newspaper and said, “My daughter had a very unsettled family life when she was growing up. It would be a dream for her to settle down and marry the man she loves. She would want to do it all properly. I’d be proud to walk my daughter down the aisle with the man she loves. I honestly believe he loves my daughter and she’s besotted with him. She has made it clear she wants a future with him.”
The young girls father continued, “Hopefully with good behaviour he may be freed on parole after a few years. If they have a future together that’s fine by me and they would have my blessing. I should hate him for what he’s done but I don’t – in fact, I’d like to meet him. I’d like to visit him in prison, shake his hand and say, ‘Thanks for looking after my daughter’. I would be nice to him.”
Forrest’s sister, Ms Hanspaul, claimed that her brother had been “vulnerable” at the time of his offences, and she went on to describe him as being immature and someone who “hadn’t fully grown up yet.” She went on to say that it was as if he was still in his “early 20s rather than 30.”
Her defence of her brother is touching, but even if Forrest was in his “20s” when he committed the offences, he would still have been jailed for having sexual relations with a child. According to the law, a pedophile is anyone over the age of sixteen or older who ” who is primarily or exclusively sexually attracted to children who have not begun puberty (girls 10 years old or less, and boys 11 year old or less, on average). The prepubescent child must be at least five years younger than the person in the case of adolescent pedophiles before the attraction can be diagnosed as pedophilia.
In this instance his victim was not “prepubescent” but she was underage and much younger than her predator than the listed “five years.”
The 33 year-old Hanspaul has said she felt protective towards the girl, and that she had comforted her in the moments after the jury returned the guilty verdict in court last week, according to the Mail On Sunday. She also said that personally didn’t see the 15 year age difference and relationship between her brother and the girl as “predatory or grooming.”
She went on to say that her brother Forrest had told their father he is happier now than he has been for a long time.
The teenager he abducted and plans to marry has written a letter to Forrest’s parents. In it she says that she is sorry for “any upset I have caused” and makes it clear that her feelings for him cannot be changed, the Mail On Sunday said.
In the five-page letter, she wrote, “I can’t emphasise enough how everything I feel towards Jeremy is – more than anything – serious… he is wonderful… Obviously I now and will continue in the future to stand by him. I do believe that some things are worth fighting for. For now, though, I’m going to concentrate on working hard to get the future both me and Jeremy want and I’m preparing for college.”
While it would be nice to believe that both Jeremy Forrest and his victim do truly love each other and that his teenage abductee wants to marry him, the question of collusion, not to mention “grooming,” comes springing to mind. It has also occurred to the minds of the authorities who are investigating as to whether or not Forrest had coerced his victim into making her declarations to the press and if he is found to have done so, he will get another day in court.
By Michael Smith