A TEACHER at Scotland’s national deaf school has been placed on the sex offenders register after drunkenly groping a 16-year-old boy during a birthday party.
William Docherty, a communication support worker at Donaldson’s School in Linlithgow, left his devastated victim “upset and sick” when he pounced in the driveway of the teenager’s parents’ home.
The attack took place in the early hours of the morning while Docherty waited for a taxi as the birthday party drew to a close.
Donaldson’s also came under fire when a sheriff yesterday slammed the school for not suspending the pervert until almost four years after the October 2009 assault – despite receiving a report from the victim’s mother at the time of the incident.
Docherty, 42, of Cameron Way in Livingston, denied the charge, but was found guilty of indecent assault at Falkirk Sheriff Court. He will be sentenced next month. At the court yesterday, Sheriff Derek O’Carroll was told that Docherty returned with the victim’s family and friends to Falkirk after a party at a nearby venue, striking up a series of conversations with the teenager, who said he felt the man “smelling his hair” as they waited in the driveway.
The teenager responded by moving to the end of the driveway, but Docherty called him back and then launched his sickening attack. The now 20-year-old victim, who did not drink during the party, told the court: “He shouted us over – I thought something was wrong. His back was to me. He said, ‘come here’. I went over and his back was still to me, and he put his hand down and felt my crotch. Then he asked me to go back to the hotel with him.”
The victim told the court how he ran into the house to tell his brother, who was still up drinking and initially thought it was a joke. But it became clear something serious had happened when the victim broke down in tears.
The boy’s mother confronted Docherty a few days later, but told the court she was torn over how to deal with the incident because her son was not “comfortable” with her going to police.
Detectives did not become involved until the school’s board of governors was made fully aware of the situation last summer and took the decision to suspend Docherty from his duties.
Docherty pleaded his innocence, but in announcing his guilty verdict, Sheriff O’Carroll told him: “You simply say the victim and his mother were lying.
“But I can see no reason why both of them would have made up their account of what happened. I find both the complainant and his mother were entirely credible.
“By contrast, I do not believe your account.”
And he hit out at Donaldson’s, adding: “It is most unfortunate that the conclusion of this trial was delayed by four years.
“I am rather puzzled that Donaldson’s School, which is well known as a school for children who are vulnerable, have taken so long to deal with the accusation.”
Bosses at Donaldson’s said it was with “regret” that they learned of the verdict, stressing the incident took place out of school and did not involve any of its pupils.
Mary Mulligan, convener of the board of Donaldson’s Trust, said: “When the matter first came to the attention of the board of governors, we instigated an internal investigation into the issues surrounding the allegation and how it was handled. This review is ongoing.
“At the same time, we took all necessary steps to protect our pupils and informed the police who took it from there.”
Sentencing on Docherty has been deferred until next month so background reports can be filed.
The case is the latest controversy to hit Donaldson’s School. In September last year, the Evening News revealed how the institution failed to suspend a pupil after allegations he had assaulted a classmate in the school toilets.
Donaldson’s hit by string of controversies
DONALDSON’S School – the national education institution for deaf children – has been at the centre of a number of controversies in recent years.
The guilty verdict against William Docherty was preceded in August last year by the suspension of its chief executive, Janice MacNeill, and headteacher, Mary O’Brien, by the board.
The suspension was ordered ahead of a probe to establish whether correct procedures were followed after the initial allegation.
And in September last year, the mother of a pupil told how her 17-year-old daughter was living in fear after school bosses failed to evict a pupil alleged to have assaulted her in the toilets.