Mother's fury after sex assault teacher walks free
THE distraught mother of a victim of sex assault teacher Stephen Tait has slammed the justice system after he walked free from court with a community pay-back order.
Tait escaped a jail term at Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Friday having previously been convicted of sexually assaulting two boys, aged six and seven, in the classroom.
The offences took place on Tait's first day at the school where he was standing in as a supply teacher.
The mum was in tears after the sentencing and told Press Online, "The justice system has got this completely wrong. What message is it going to send out if a teacher can get away with this?
"This has had a devastating effect on our family and on my son. He's a totally different boy since this has happened.
"His behaviour has got worse but we've had no support from the child psychiatrist who told us we had to deal with it as parents.
"My son has said to me 'Mr Tait is a scary man and I'll have to hide if I see him at the school'.
"I'm proud that my son did the right thing by telling us about what had happened. Then they were interviewed by the police and had the trauma of giving evidence in court and being interrogated. I've got to wonder what was it all for."
The family are taking legal advice to see if there is anything which can be done to overturn the sentence.
"My son came home after school that day and asked was it normal for a teacher to touch him at school.
"He was a normal happy wee boy before all this but this is going to affect him for the rest of his life. He doesn't have the same confidence.
"We haven't had any support as a family and haven't been told anything about what is happening along the way. Tait has had all the support, not the victims."
The mum had to go home and tell her son that Tait had not been jailed. "I'll just have to sit him down and tell him what has happened. I can't lie to him and tell him he's been jailed. He could see him going about.
"My son already thinks he's done something wrong because of all the questions he's been asked."
The mother said she would be taking legal advice to see if there is anything the family can do to appeal against the leniency of the sentence.
In June, Stephen Tait (29), of Strathmore Street, Kinghorn, was convicted after trial of sexually abusing a boy aged seven by touching him on the bottom between 16th and 17th August.
He was also found guilty of sexually abusing a boy aged six by touching him on the tummy and private parts.
On Friday, Sheriff Colin McClory said after reading reports on Tait that he "still seems to be in denial".
He said it was "quite a disturbing background I'm garnering from all of this".
The sheriff went on, "These were serious offences. It was quite a grotesque breach of trust. These young boys were supposedly in his care and I found them compelling witnesses."
He added, "Society takes a very very dim of that."
The sheriff said, "The lack of acknowledgement is troubling. He hasn't given the impact on the complainants much thought."
The sheriff sentenced to Tait to a three year community pay-back order with supervision, 250 hours of unpaid work, a nine month restriction of liberty tag and he has been put on the sex offenders register.
At the trial the boys gave evidence by video-link. One of them said he had gone to the teacher's desk to have his work marked when Tait touched his private parts and bottom.
Craig Munro, Fife Council's head of education service, said, "We do everything we can to keep our pupils safe in school. Before anyone can work at our schools a Protection of Vulnerable Groups record check is carried out to ensure there are no previous convictions or concerns about their suitability to work with children.
"This is a traumatic time for those involved and our psychological service gives the school community any support it needs."