Teacher found guilty of inciting child sexual activity

Friday, August 6, 2010

LONDON - A school teacher in Britain has been found guilty of inciting two minor girls to engage in sexual activity, while he watched them on a webcam.

Michael Harding, 35, of Chafford Hundred in the outskirts of London, was found guilty Friday by the Basildon Crown Court of four counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, the New Zealand Herald reported citing local media.

Harding, hailing from New Zealand, admitted in the court that his online exchange with two 12-year-old girls was highly inappropriate, but he said it was not sexually motivated.

He had worked in two primary schools at Thurrock, 45 km from London, and had no previous convictions. He was a popular and well respected teacher.

Harding told the court he had stayed in contact with many former pupils through social networking website Facebook because he was interested in how they were progressing.

On May 17, 2009, he played a game of truth or dare via webcam with two former pupils. Harding sat with his laptop in his flat, while the girls were at one of their homes.

Harding told the court he encouraged them to kiss each other and belly dance, and asked them if they had ever fancied any of their teachers. He enquired about boyfriends, and told them that if they kissed it did not make them lesbians.

But when he suggested they remove their underwear and then get dressed again, they cut off the connection.

Harding said he had been “foolish” after forgetting the girls’ ages.

He will be sentenced in September.

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