Edinburgh crime: High school worker sexually assaulted teacher on Christmas night out
Teacher said she felt 'degraded' and 'like a piece of dirt' after assault
A high school worker has been convicted of sexually assaulting a probationary teacher during a staff Christmas night out.
Graeme Bennion, 39, slapped the woman on the bottom and labelled her “loose” during the school’s festive party at an Edinburgh nightclub in 2018. The woman said she pushed Bennion away and told him to “f*** off” before fleeing to a nearby toilet where she told a colleague about the assault.
The teacher, who cannot be identified due to legal reasons, told a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court the sex assault had left her feeling “degraded” and “like a piece of dirt”. She reported the incident to the school’s head teacher and an official investigation was launched by the local authority.
Following several meetings the teacher told the court she decided not to report the incident to the police and had agreed to carry on working at the high school. Bennion was employed as an Active School Coordinator by East Lothian Council and worked in the PE department at the school.
Bennion, from Wallyford, East Lothian, denied he had sexually assaulted the woman but was found guilty by a jury following a four day trial at the capital’s sheriff court on Tuesday. He was cleared of charges of sexually assaulting two former pupils and to having sex and exposing himself to a third girl at various locations in East Lothian in 2014.
Following the jury’s verdict, Sheriff Matthew Auchincloss placed Bennion on the Sex Offenders Register and deferred sentence to next month for reports to be prepared.
The trial heard from the assault victim who said she was a first year probationary teacher and had attended a staff Christmas party at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh in December 2018. She said during the evening she had been verbally abused by a male member of staff who had been in Bennion’s company and while walking towards the toilet he had approached her.
She said: “Later in the evening I was upset as another member of staff had said some comments to me and as I was walking away Graeme appeared in front of me. He slapped my bum and called me loose. I pushed him and told him to f*** off and walked towards the toilet. I felt degraded and felt really upset. It made feel like a piece of dirt.”
The teacher told the jury she told another member of staff what had happened and had subsequently reported the assault to school management.
The trial also heard from three women who said Bennion had sexually assaulted them while they were all 17 years old in 2014.
One woman said she was still at school when he had groped her leg in the back of a taxi before leading her down a secluded lane to have sex against a wall in an East Lothian town. She told the court Bennion then stalked her for around three months and had coerced her into driving to deserted car parks at night where she would perform oral sex on him.
The woman also said Bennion, a father of two, threatened to commit suicide if she did not agree to his demands.
Two former pupils at the school also gave evidence that the the school worker had tried to kiss them outside a pub after bumping into him when they were just teenagers.
But the jury found all the allegations involving the three former pupils to be not proven and Bennion was acquitted of those charges.
An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the court proceedings against a former member of staff that have resulted in criminal conviction. We are appalled by the offence which this individual has been convicted of, as the safety and wellbeing of all staff is of the highest priority to the council.”