Lesbian teacher who abused 15 year old claims mental illness

Lesbian teacher who abused 15 year old claims mental illness

By Charlotte Fantelli

As I read the headline in The Daily Mail 'Lesbian teacher, 38, who had affair with 15-year-old girl pupil detained under mental health act', it knocked me sideways. Firstly it took me straight back to being 14, when I was a vulnerable, young and scared teenager, and found myself in the arms of a thirty-something woman in a position of power. Secondly the headline sickened me as this pervert was now responsible (along with The Mail) for another crap headline about mental illness.

For those of you who are not familiar with the story, 38-year-old teacher Suzanne Harrison molested the 15-year-old over a period of seven months, telling the girl 'Don't tell anyone about this'.

Harrison has admitted to four sex offences while in a position of power. The abuser worked at a school in Colchester at the time of the offences. She was said to have struck a close friendship with the victim after exchanging numbers at the girl's 15th birthday party.

It was revealed that on one of the occasions Harrison admitted she was found in bed with the girl by the victims sister. On another occasion the child was wearing her school uniform when they then ended up in bed together.

Prosecutor Godfried Duah said: 'This was a very vulnerable victim who relied on her teacher's support as a friend.'

The Mail Online reported: In mitigation, Richard Atchley said Harrison had been referred to mental health teams and continued to suffer psychological difficulties.

Well I would like to know exactly what psychological difficulties her defence feels would excuse her sexually abusing a child? The 'difficulties' didn't prevent this obviously intelligent woman holding down a respectable career; she was in fact director at the Suffolk One Sixth Form College in Ipswich, we can but assume her 'mental health' was good enough to not cause concern within the establishment?

I would like to add that I work day in and day out with people who have genuine mental health problems, indeed my staff members have afflictions ranging from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and I can say in confidence we have never once molested a minor!

Also it offends me that mental health teams time is taken up assessing the defence of criminals like this (and my abuser) when I as a victim waited five years for proper NHS help. The suicide of my friend while in a 'secure' unit was just one of this years many mental health tragedies that happen due to shortfalls in the mental health care in this country, yet it is still such that perpetrators get psychological assessment at the drop of the tax-payers hat.

And finally (before the steam coming out my ears finally fizzles out), I find it wholly distasteful and utterly inappropriate that such a stigmatising headline should once again associate mental illness with sickness and perversion, when will the media start to portray the reality; that the two are completely mutually exclusive!

Read more about my story of abuse and recovery.

Your rating: None Average: 7.2 (16 votes)