A TEACHER convicted of a sex offence against a pupil more than 20 years ago has been sent to prison for nine months.
At the time of the offence, Donald Hunt 52, taught religious education at Rhyddings High School, Oswaldtwistle.
He had denied indecently assaulting the 14-year-old boy in a storeroom next to his classroom in 1984 but was found guilty by a jury and the case was adjourned for sentencing.
Hunt, who went on to teach at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, was jailed at Preston Crown Court last Friday and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.
The judge also imposed an order banning him from unsupervised contact with children under 16 or any activity bringing him into contact with boys.
Twenty five character references were handed in on his behalf and the court was told that he was a leading member of the Church.
His barrister Joe Boyd said the sentence would have a devastating effect on married man Hunt and his family.
Hunt, of Seascale, Cumbria, had been under suspension from his job at Whitehaven Secondary School and has now been dismissed.
Judge Andrew Gilbart QC said "This has to be met with a prison sentence so that it is clearly understood that those in a position of trust, especially schoolmasters and schoolmis-tresses, understand the penalty for crossing the important line of trust that exists between parent and teacher.
"You are a gifted teacher, a man who has achieved a great deal for many of your pupils.
"You are also a man to whom your faith is important and you have worked hard in your church.''
The judge said the fact that he would never teach again, or have an active role in the Church, was a considerable burden he had brought on himself.
He also told Hunt "You are in denial about the fact that you are bi-sexual. I am not sentencing you for being bi-sexual, it is not a crime. I am sentencing you for a breach of trust where you assaulted a boy in his teens."
The original trial heard that Hunt told the boy to pull down his underpants before putting his hands in one of the boy's pockets and touching him.
The victim, now 34, said Hunt had ruined his life. He left school with few qualifications, got involved in crime and started taking drugs.
He said: "He was an RE teacher and an authority figure. He destroyed any respect or faith I had in men and any form of authority."
Hunt, who worked at Rhyddings between 1982 and 1990, was warned about his future conduct at Whitehaven in 2003 after an investigation into claims he had asked a boy of 12 if he would be interested in doing some modelling and pulled up his shirt to look at his stomach.
He was, however, cleared of a separate allegation that he incited another Rhyddings boy, aged 13, to commit an act of gross indecency, also in 1984.