Helen Goddard – should she really be branded a sex offender?

Rex Features

Rex Features

Yesterday, music teacher Helen Goddard, aged 26, was jailed for having sex with a 15-year-old female pupil at a fee-paying school outside London. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison, has been put on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years and has been banned from working with children for life.

On reading this story, I was forced to question the morality of such a punishment. Anyone that has read the details behind the case will know that the relationship between the two was most definitely consensual, instigated by the pupil, and was of an intimate and loving nature. Yes, sex was involved, but it was not the driving force of the affair and not the only thing to focus on.

The girl’s parents are rightly outraged that their daughter lied to them and that a teacher, which they effectively pay, misused her authority and position of trust.

But isn’t that the end of it? The girl wasn’t morally raped – she was legally raped. Having sex with someone under the age of consent, 16, is rape in the eyes of the law. So why does it make me uncomfortable that I don’t seem to be seeing through these same eyes?

Goddard has lost her career, her integrity, her reptuation (a former child trumpet prodigy who played at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000) and been through a very public and humiliating trial with sordid details of her sex life exposed in most of the nationals. This is a young woman whose primary action was to fall in love and to act upon this love.

Many people will argue that there is more to this than love – that she was in a position of trust, that she took advantage of a hormone-fuelled teenager, even that she is some sort of deviant for having found affection in the arms of someone 10 years her junior. But is she a predator? Is she a rapist? Is she a sex offender?

There has been no question that she pursued the pupil – a relationship was formed out of a friendship, a closeness that became something more – something that has happened to most people the world over – you meet someone, there’s a connection. Of course, no-one forced Goddard to act upon this desire. She is a 26-year-old woman, and speaking myself as one, I know that by no means am I always grounded enough to make the right decisions, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

Rape is a hate crime. Is this what we are discussing here? It is a nasty and ugly abuse of power, an act of force and usually violence, not a romantic weekend in Paris, not a walk in the park that turned into a kiss, a text message that reads: ‘It’s going to be a beautiful day. I love you. You are on my mind all night.’

Fifteen-year-olds, and younger, across the country are having sex. They have sex with other people their age, with those older, younger – to criminalise each action would be absurd. Goddard was a teacher, so of course, she must be held accountable for her actions; lose her job, maybe face a teaching ban, but she is not a sex offender and does not need to go to prison to understand the mistake she has made.

The media loves this sort of story. Ooh it is a sex story – even better a nice little teacher pupil-fantasy scenario. And a lesbian? Bingo – let’s splash it across the front pages with a nice picture of the so-called sexual predator, looking very err… predatory as she walks into court (where she later bursts into tears on being sentenced). What could possibly satsify the salacious appetites of the tabloids, and sadly, the nationals, further? Surely only fluffy handcuffs and sex toys (god forbid) can taint her character just a bit more? (because these are the tools of the devil don’t you know?).

This is all without the mention of paedophilia – as necessary as the humble printing press in creating a tabloid these days. The media is full of this kind of paedo-hysteria, stranger danger bullshit, constantly implying that the world is full of predators stalking our young people and forcing them into bad and dangerous ways.

Look behind the Goddard story, behind the draconian and blanket laws, and find a story that is both sad and heartening. The judge in the case chose not to impose a ban on the couple seeing each other, despite the law essentially branding Goddard a sex offender so implicitly admitting that they do not actually believe this to be the case. The judge rejected a prosecution request to ban the teacher from contacting her victim for five years, claiming it would be ‘unnecessary, unkind, and cruel to the victim’. Does this not also give the impression that the girl would be worse off for not seeing her lover than by having contact?

This lack of ban means that she will be able to contact her from prison, as well as see her privately when released. It is obviously something that the couple, at this stage, plan to do, with Goddard punching the air in victory in court, when being told that no such ban would be imposed.

Obviously, the court is not accepting the fact that Goddard is a risk to the pupil. The judge also refused, another prosecution request, to ban Goddard from being allowed to be alone with underage girls – once again, demonstrating the fact that the teacher is not viewed as a threat to young people in any sense.

According to Goddard’s barrister, the teacher ‘is quite young for her age’ and he claimed that the couple continue to ‘love each other very much’.

The law is in place to both protect and punish. Yet cases such as this merely show how black and white law is when applied. Surely cases should be judged on individuality? Surely a ‘victim’s’ wishes and thoughts should be taken into account? This is merely a sentence for sentencing’s sake. Goddard will have a large part of her life absolutely ruined and is being portrayed as some kind of sexual monster because of it. The judge admitted it was a ‘difficult’ case, yet was powerless to use any sense of perspective or proportion.

Someone once used the analogy of if you picked up a pound coin on the ground and put it in your pocket, then by the principles of law, you could be charged with theft and sentenced accordingly. Is this not one of those cases? A knee-jerk overkill reaction to a crime that is essentially innocuous for all parties? It was something that could have been dealt with within the school, not made public, and not brought to a criminal trial.

A statement by the girl’s parents (as printed in the predictably biased Daily Mail piece) states: ‘Our teenage girl has been led to believe by Miss Goddard that their contact is within the bounds of a normal relationship, apart from the fact that our daughter is a few months underage. From our understanding, Miss Goddard and our daughter feel that it is possible to continue their relationship without difficulty when our daughter is 16 at the end of this month. In conveying this to our daughter, and taking no responsibility for her actions, we do not believe Miss Goddard has fully understood the seriousness of her breaking the boundaries and completely breaching the trust embedded in the teacher-pupil relationship.’

While I am sympathetic to the parents, it is all to easy to blame Goddard as the vile perpertrator. Their contact, although unusual, is ‘within the bounds of a normal relationship’ if they chose to let it be as they are both consenting and by all accounts, the pupil has reached a level of sexual maturity in order to be able to make this judgement. The girl is nearly 16, so agonisingly close, it makes you wonder what Goddard’s punishment would have been if she were to have embarked on this affair just a few months later. Would the world look kindly on their plight? Would she have gone away with a rapped knuckle and a P45? The world of ‘what ifs’ is probably plaguing her right now as she sits in a cell wondering where it all went wrong. The parents claim she has not fully understood the seriousness of her actions – I would say that she most definitely has. As a teacher and a woman of 26, she will have known the risks involved, even if she did not fully grasp that a nasty future of incarceration and humiliation would be on its way.

Love makes us do stupid things. It makes our judgements cloudy, makes us rebellious, makes us defy the odds. Literature is awash with these Romeo-Juliet, love across the boundaries-type sagas and usually they have us swooning, hoping that our love-torn protagonists will beat the system, overcome the prejudice and be entitled to achieve what they both, as two human individuals, truly and independently desire.

As Helen Goddard ponders her future now, I would love to ask her just one question? Would you make the same mistake again? And if I was a gambling woman, I would place my bet on a ‘yes’. Love is not a choice as this harsh and stoic law would assume. It is grey, complex and extremely divisive. Young people are entitled to their opinions and laws which seek to protect them must, in turn, respect this. I just hope that the couple’s feelings can withstand the media and parental pressure, which has undoubtedly harmed the young girl more than any caring and loving relationship ever could, and they can go on to prove the legal system and its army of Daily Mail reading, democracy-hating followers, well and truly wrong.

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52 Comments

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52 responses to “Helen Goddard – should she really be branded a sex offender?

  1. How do I RSS your blog… I want it on my google… wooo hoo!

    • cloblog

      Hey! How are you? I don’t know the answer to that… that assumes a level of technical understanding that is way beyond my limits! I have it on my Google (arrogant hey?!) – I managed it so will look into it… watch this space! How are things anyway? You still in NY?xxx

  2. Laurie

    I’m a female teacher; in one awkward and embarrassing episode I had a male pupil come on to me several times.

    Know what I did? Simple: I pretended to be completely oblivious! “Clueless” was my middle name! Eventually he got fed up of trying to make an impression on someone who received his attentions with nothing more than a polite smile; maybe, in future years, he will be comforted by the thought that “Teacher” could have had no idea of what he intended at the time.

    Which is how it should be. No harm done, either to myself or the boy.

    Now, if Helen Goddard couldn’t figure out that this was the right way to behave, what on earth was she doing teaching at a school, and why are media commentators falling over themselves to characterise her actions in terms of “love” rather than, say, “lack of self-control” or “irresponsibility”?

    • cloblog

      I understand your point of view – you definitely made the right decision. However, my argument is more that the punishment does not fit the crime. Call me an old romantic, but love doesn’t just blossom in the places we expect. I don’t think this was purely a case of a pupil coming on to a teacher and her giving in… they appear to have spent much time together during which feelings for each other developed. Yes, she totally disregarded her position of authority and trust, but I don’t consider this a case of abuse and therefore do not think that prison/S.O register are the correct ways to punish her actions. Thanks for the comment :0)

      • Laurie

        It’s true, they did spend a lot of time together – but my point is that Goddard always had the choice and the chance to back off. This relationship developed during lunchtime sessions and after school: she should have pleaded sudden and unavoidable obligations, cancelled these sessions and avoided further temptation.

        If Goddard truly loved the girl, she’d have placed that girl’s best interests ahead of everything else. Looks to me like Goddard’s main aim was self-gratification: to that end, she took advantage of an infatuated teenager with very little life experience and obviously immature judgement.

        Just because Goddard appears young and fragile does not mean that she is naive. (One does not achieve a coveted teaching position at a top public school by being unaware of how the world works.) And, FWIW, if Goddard had been a 27-year-old man in a relationship with a 15-year-old girl, my reaction would be exactly the same.

      • cloblog

        Self gratification was definitely involved, I agree. Although I do believe that love was involved too, on both parts, else Goddard would not have risked her whole career and essentially life on the relationship, and in fact, continue to do so even now – vowing to continue with it despite her custodial sentence.

        Obviously, this may not last forever and, given the difficult circumstances, is unlikely too, however I think everyone makes bad decisions, bad judgment calls. In retrospect, yes, she should have avoided situations if she felt her feelings were growing for the girl, but lust/desire/love makes people do stupid, completely self-indulgent things. No excuse of course, but a reasonable explanation.

        You have experience of this situation so obviously know, in some respects, more than I do, however I can’t help but feel sorry for her – being branded a sex offender is, I believe, a harsh punishment.

        I went to a private girls’ school myself and teachers were in many ways encouraged to treat us like equals, adults… we went to their houses, drank wine (this was 6th form) and smoked in front of some of them. It was very relaxed and informal, and some may argue too much so as this is probably how such a situation developed in this case.

      • Laurie

        Ah, that’s very helpful indeed! Your description of the informal atmosphere in an average private girls’ school does go some way to explaining how the usual boundaries must have been “blurred” for this girl.

        I still think Goddard was at fault for allowing herself to be alone with the girl for extended periods (and was her decision to consummate the relationship truly a self-sacrificial act, or was it just prompted by the reckless little voice within us all that tells us “we won’t get caught”?) But your added context does explain how the situation may have got “out of hand” before Goddard could impose reasonable measures to control it. I still don’t condone her decision to take advantage of the girl, but I can see how, in such an atmosphere, both may have deluded themselves that their “chemistry” was just too strong to resist.

        Thanks very much for the insight!

      • cloblog

        No problem and thanks for reading. Do you have your own blog? If not, you should!

  3. Andy

    Sorry to be a killjoy, but unable to comment on a page on Facebook’s “Free Helen Goddard” without joining, this seemed to be the best option.

    Am I the only person who can’t see the difference between this and a 26 year old male teacher doing exactly the same thing with a 15 year old female student: is it okay because it’s a lesbian relationship?

    Would it be okay if it were a 26 year old male teacher and a 15 year old boy?

    Or a 26 years old female teacher and a 15 year old boy?

    Yes, love comes out in the strangest of places, but it is the responsibility of adults to protect children – especially when in their care – and the fact that the girl will be 16 very shortly is immaterial in many respects: the legal system doesn’t move terribly quickly and I’d guess she was perhaps a few months further away from the age of consent when the relationship was allowed to start.

    It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t have waited until the 15 year old girl was sixteen – assuming that it is a real love, and I’m not disputing that as a possibility – but equally importantly was no longer at the school where the teacher was working because that opens up a whole new can of worms: it would have been extremely difficult for the school to continue her employment in the circumstances, even if the girl had been sixteen because there is still poor judgment and the ‘duty of care’ issue to be taken into consideration.

    Sad though this case might be, if the judgment were over-turned, who’s to say that it wouldn’t be used as a legal precedent next time a genuinely dangerous paedophile with a good lawyer comes before the bench.

    Lines in the sand need to be drawn, and in cases where people are fully aware of them they have no grounds for complaint of they are penalised for crossing them. If you disagree with where those lines are drawn, campaign against them: that’s what civil rights are about.

    Helen should be grateful that the judge was relatively sympathetic to their plight: it could have been a lot worse if the full weight of the law had been brought to bear – as I suspect the 15 year old’s parents would have preferred. And if Helen is genuine in wanting the relationship to continue on her release, I hope that the object of her affection has a longer attention span than most hormonally charged teenagers.

    • cloblog

      Good last point – all this anguish and distress for what could potentially be a flash in the pan for the pupil. However, on the basis of their actions, one has to assume that there is a depth of feeling there and it would be condescending to try and belittle it or predict its longevity.

      I understand your points about ‘duty of care’ and ‘lines in the sand’. My comments about love/lust and harsh justice are not in any way an attempt to justify Goddard’s actions – as I have stated, I do believe it was an error of judgment and a betrayal of her position – however, I do not believe the punishment fits the crime.

      As for the argument that it might be viewed differently if it was two males or a male and a female pupil, this is not my viewpoint whatsoever. I would be making the same points. Others may think that a relationship between two women is somehow softer or less threatening, but to do this would be to undermine the whole value of a lesbian relationship and would be insulting to same-sex couples. Everyone should be treated fairly and equally, irrespective of gender.

      In this situation, the lesbian angle has sparked more interest in the case, as has the fact that Goddard is an attractive young music teacher and it was a private girls’ school, yet none of this should mean anything when it comes to the courtroom – it is the playground of the media, not the law.

  4. seamus

    NO WAY should she be in jail. Not because of her looks, her lesbianism, or that of her girlfriend. But because no-one benefits from her being banged up. Good luck Helen.

    • cloblog

      Thanks for the comment. I totally agree. A victimless crime, it could be argued…

      • Janey

        Why is it victimless? If the genders would be reversed, girls would be screaming for his head and saying to throw away the key.

        Sorry gals, but the law is the law, and to say that she shouldn’t be branded a sex offender is HYPOCRISY at its worst. Being a teacher, she was in a position of power. That is key. Also, there was a pretty good age difference. Seriously. She knew what she was doing, and knew that it was wrong.

        Sorry ladies but if the genders were reversed, HE would be a sex offender for LIFE and would certainly be getting more than 18 months in jail.

  5. SuperCraggs

    I enjoyed your read, and I’m on the Free HG facebook the same as you.

    There is no news at the minute, and things are looking like they are going to burn out, leaving Helen to her unfair, injust fate.

    I am glad to see that people can take such a progressive attitude to things like this, when the crazyies are screaming for blood, the intellectuals have distinguished themselves under fire.

    • Laurie

      SuperCraggs,

      Before you categorize all those who condemn Goddard’s actions as “crazies,”, I’d like it if you could please answer the following questions:

      1) Would you feel the same way if Goddard were a 27-year-old man taking advantage of a 15-year-old child?

      2) If that 15-year-old girl had been your daughter, would you be happy that she had started a sexual relationship with her teacher? Would you still believe that Goddard should escape significant punishment for her actions?

      I can understand why Goddard succumbed to temptation, but what she did was still a crime. It’s not “progressive” to argue that teachers and pupils should be allowed to have sexual relationships, it’s just wrong. The teenager may possibly have been the one who initiated the relationship, but how many of us would argue that we made the correct choices when we were 14 or 15? The teacher’s there to “know better” than the hormone-driven teen, not to take advantage of said teen when they’re vulnerable.

      Teachers and pupils can certainly have platonic *friendships*, and that’s as far as it should go.

      • cloblog

        http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20090930/tuk-web-pervert-teacher-jailed-for-four-45dbed5.html

        The above is a link to a teacher-sex story, however it is a lot more sinister. This is a guy that actively sought out a victim online by posing as a teenage girl. He then convinced the 13-year-old to meet him, where he had sex with her. Now, I don’t think anyone would argue that this is a crime and he deserves punishment.

        Strange then that this is his punishment: Knott, of Miles Platting, Manchester, was jailed for four years and banned from working with children for five years after admitting grooming a child for sex on the internet and sexual activity with a child. Knott, who made no reaction as he was jailed, was also banned for five years from having internet access except in a public library or through a place of work and banned from being with a female, under 16, in private.

        Compare this with Goddard’s: 15 month prison sentence, on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and can never work with children again.

        Anyone else find this bizarre and questionable? Why the life ban for working with children? The law is an unruly beast in my opinion…

      • SuperCraggs

        1) It’s not a case of whether it is right or not. It’s a case of using judgement, and not immediately succumbing to pedo-stranger-danger hysteria. I would confront the pair of them, and if it was genuine, I’d have no choice but to let it ride. People must make their own mistakes. When it comes to determining whether or not the pupil is mentally capable, well…that’s why you’d have to confront both of them, and use your judgement.

        If not mentally capable, I’d tell them to end it. I don’t want a middle-class teacher (even if they are an asshole) in prison for 4 years. That changes nothing, and will cost them their sanity, and all of us a shit-load in taxes.

        Helen Goddard does not get a free pass because she is hot and gay. If she wasn’t hot and gay, you’d never have even heard of her.

        2. You have obviously not read the facts of the case.Goddard has had EXTREMELY significant punishment for her actions, bordering on cruelty. My perspective on this is not that she should get off completely scot-free, but she has breached a professional, not a penal standard. The crux of my argument is that she never should have got a jail sentence, it’s pointless and cruel. The punishment outweighed the harm by an order of magnitude.

        The severity of Goddard’s jailing is due to political, we-must-protect-the-children hysteria. Anyone with eyes can see (once you’ve done your research) that the jailing was unneccesary, there was more than enough mitigation to mean that a jail sentence was not required. (Let’s not even get into how Goddard’s lovers views were supressed in court, with the angry parents perverting the purpose of the victim impact statement)

        So do your research, give me a rational counter-point, and we will see if you are a crazy or not.

    • Laurie

      Dear SuperCraggs,

      [i] It’s not a case of whether it is right or not. It’s a case of using judgement, and not immediately succumbing to pedo-stranger-danger hysteria. I would confront the pair of them, and if it was genuine, I’d have no choice but to let it ride. People must make their own mistakes.[/i]

      You think fifteen-year-olds should be left alone to have their emotions screwed over by adults? I’d disagree. Pupils are not there for teachers to have sex with. I hope you will not characterize me as “crazy” for putting it in such blunt terms, but that truly is the heart of the matter. Anyone who abuses the teacher/pupil relationship to this extent should not be teaching.

      [i] When it comes to determining whether or not the pupil is mentally capable, well…that’s why you’d have to confront both of them, and use your judgement.[/i]

      Which always comes down to shifting, subjective personal criteria – for example, should IQ be an issue? Would you allow a student of IQ 130 to have such an affair, but deny it to a sincere student of IQ 90? Or do you just plan to rely on your “instinct” as to whether this 15-yr-old and this 27-yr-old belong together?

      In the end, it’s not about an outsider’s “personal judgement”, it’s about whether the teacher did something wrong. Having sex with an underage child is wrong (…and I can’t believe I’m having to spell it out so blatantly).

      [i]If not mentally capable, I’d tell them to end it. I don’t want a middle-class teacher (even if they are an asshole) in prison for 4 years. That changes nothing, and will cost them their sanity, and all of us a shit-load in taxes.[/i]

      Try seven months… And if Goddard couldn’t keep her hands off the 15-yr-old for that long, maybe she needs that amount of time out of public circulation so that the 15-yr-old can judge for herself whether this relationship is True Love or just a passing hormone-fuelled crush. In the end, the teacher should have waited. If she’d simply waited until the girl were legal, she’d have lost her job but she wouldn’t have gone to prison.

      [i]Helen Goddard does not get a free pass because she is hot and gay. If she wasn’t hot and gay, you’d never have even heard of her.[/i]

      Yeah, but the number of people who seem to think that she should be given a free pass because she’s hot disturbs me. Would she have so many supporters if she’d been less-than-hot? I doubt it.

      [i]2. You have obviously not read the facts of the case.Goddard has had EXTREMELY significant punishment for her actions, bordering on cruelty.[/i]

      The lifetime ban on teaching does sound harsh… but I wouldn’t want any child of mine ever being taught by someone who’d previously committed statutory rape. Once you’ve crossed that line, you can’t be trusted with underage pupils again.

      [i]My perspective on this is not that she should get off completely scot-free, but she has breached a professional, not a penal standard. The crux of my argument is that she never should have got a jail sentence, it’s pointless and cruel. The punishment outweighed the harm by an order of magnitude. [/i]

      Evidently you see nothing wrong with a 15-yr-old having sexual intercourse with their teacher. My view is that the mere fact that Goddard was a teacher should have made her draw back: as a teacher, she was in a position of power which made the relationship unequal. (And even if the student had masochistic tendencies – which the “handcuffs” detail would suggest – sadomasochism is best explored by two equals rather than being part of a real-life power imbalance.)

      [i]The severity of Goddard’s jailing is due to political, we-must-protect-the-children hysteria. Anyone with eyes can see (once you’ve done your research) that the jailing was unnecessary, there was more than enough mitigation to mean that a jail sentence was not required.[/i]

      No, I’m looking up all I can about it and I still see a teacher taking advantage of a teenage girl’s crush. I see a teacher incapable of standing back, giving the teenager her own autonomy and letting her make her choices when she’s got the maturity and freedom to do so. And if she couldn’t give the teenager that space and distance, which would either have strengthened the attachment or let it dissipate harmlessly… Well, then society needs to take her out of circulation for a bit. How else is that teenager going to be able to evaluate the relationship without being subject to Goddard’s immediate influence?

      I know, sounds terribly cruel if you try to pretend these are two average people in love – but the fact remains that they are not “average people”, one of them’s an immature underage girl and the other is a teacher who should have known better than to touch a pupil in her care. It’s not about love, it’s about the abuse of trust, and (as a previous commenter on here has stated) if you let this case pass without a prison sentence you are allowing teachers in general to take sexual advantage of their confused and immature pupils by calling it “love”.

      [i](Let’s not even get into how Goddard’s lover’s views were suppressed in court, with the angry parents perverting the purpose of the victim impact statement)[/i]

      She was a besotted 15-yr-old who felt guilty about precipitating the whole affair! Of course she would like to state that no harm was done to her, but objectively a teacher took advantage of her emotions. That’s wrong.

      [i]So do your research, give me a rational counter-point, and we will see if you are a crazy or not.[/i]

      There’s my counterpoint. It may seem harsh if you insist on characterising the relationship as purely “hearts and flowers”, but the fact remains that a teacher should not have sex with one of his/her pupils. Goddard should have waited until the girl had left school.

  6. Laurie

    Hi cloblog!

    Your dissatisfaction with Knott’s sentence mirrors my own: of course he should have had a lifelong ban on working with minors, the man’s a danger to children! That he got a five-year ban amazes me, I’d put him on the Sex Offenders’ Register permanently. (Not to mention the mere two years’ imprisonment – what a joke! – but that’s another issue…)

    However, did you spot the really disturbing sentence there: “…ordered her, “like a teacher”, to take off her clothes”? That goes to the heart of the power imbalance between teacher and pupil, doesn’t it? However much the circumstances were different between Goddard and her pupil, the fact remains that Goddard wielded authority over her at that point in time.

    That’s why a teacher-pupil relationship is fundamentally wrong. If the relationship has any chance of being “fair” or stable, it should happen after the pupil has left school and can stand on equal terms with the teacher.

    • cloblog

      Hi Laurie,

      Another good argument! Yep, the teacher-pupil relationship is fundamentally wrong. It is there to protect and should not be violated. In an instance like Goddard’s she should have been fired, banned from teaching (or been quicker off the mark and left her position at the school if she wanted to continue with the relationship). Knott is a different kettle of fish in my opinion. The pupil may not have been one at his school, but he went out of his way to seek an underage relationship, using deception to do so.

      A lifelong ban should have been the first thing that they gave him and I am totally in shock that he hasn’t. That sentence, ordered her ‘like a teacher’ is disturbing. He wasn’t her teacher, but he used his authority to enforce what he wanted on a child who would have been respectful of such authority. I understand why you say this respect/balance is what underpins teaching as a profession. It is always sad to hear of such cases where that trust has been abused.

      I can’t help but find huge disparities between the two cases though and maintain my argument that Goddard should not be put on the Sex Offenders’ Register. How he can be banned for five years and her for life astounds me…

  7. Alan RF

    Helen Goddard suffers the tarnish of crimes quite different from hers. Her case highlights a total separation of what might be termed “inappropriate relationships” from the ghastly crimes that we have heard of this week in the category of paedophilia. Criminal punishment has to be a deterrent but it is quite wrong that poor Goddard should lose the best part of a year of her life sitting in jail to act as a warning to monsters that have nothing to do with her.

    I would wish that Helen will be able to rebuild her life after she has served her sentence and I hope that she will be able to climb out of the nightmare she created for herself and find some happiness again in the future but it is going to be more than difficult with the tag of sexual offender nailed to her for 10 years.

  8. Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! 🙂

    – Marc Shaw

  9. Benny

    What makes this piece so obviously misguided is that it is clear the writer somehow thinks that wo,en aren’t capable of acting on sexual lust and the inference is that when women are accused it must have an element of ‘love’ in it.
    I have no doubt if this had been the story of another man involved with a pupil the author wouldn’ have even batted an eyelid.
    Female sexual offending is vastly unreported and there are many thousands of grown women having relationships with adolescent boys in the UK.
    On the housing estate where I grew up there were 3 women whom I know of personally who quite openly had sex with underage boys and some of the lads were quite open about it.
    No doubt these women didn’t regard themselves as paedophiles, one of the boys at my school had a child with one of these women.
    Double standards

    • cloblog

      Excuse me while I check my trousers – yep, as I thought, I’m all woman. Strange then that Benny thinks I am unable to believe that women can act upon lust. I’ll let old one-night stands know shall I? I don’t assume that an element of love is necessary for two women to have sex. You only have to visit a gay scene club to realise how far from the truth that is.

      I based my judgment on this case on the facts that were presented to me via ‘respectable’ media outlets. I made a judgment on the individual merits of the situation, having heard the same facts that were heard in court – something you seem to be unable to do.

      It is easy to condemn this situation as wrong. It is harder to explain why and still sound like you have a heart. This is a couple that by all accounts are still together and have been for some time. As I have stated previously, I do not think that as a teacher Goddard should have gone unpunished, but to refer to her as a sexual offender is extreme and unhelpful. It is also narrow-minded. I respect that everyone has a different opinion – that is what blogs like this highlight and that is great.

      Just don’t go patronising me that I don’t know my own gender, assuming that I am inherently sexist and that I don’t equally revile true sex offenders, the likes of which have been seen in the press in the past few weeks. Helen Goddard had an ‘inappropriate relationship’, but note the key word in that phrase is not ‘inappropriate’, it is relationship: mutual; consensual; based on positive emotions – not fear, not violence, not pressure.

      It’s a difficult subject, one that will always welcome opposing views. Teenagers having sex is an uncomfortable, yet very common reality. All I say is that a bit of common sense goes a long way…

  10. Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.
    LOL,

  11. ‘The above is a link to a teacher-sex story, however it is a lot more sinister. This is a guy that actively sought out a victim online by posing as a teenage girl. He then convinced the 13-year-old to meet him, where he had sex with her. Now, I don’t think anyone would argue that this is a crime and he deserves punishment.

    Strange then that this is his punishment: Knott, of Miles Platting, Manchester, was jailed for four years and banned from working with children for five years after admitting grooming a child for sex on the internet and sexual activity with a child. Knott, who made no reaction as he was jailed, was also banned for five years from having internet access except in a public library or through a place of work and banned from being with a female, under 16, in private.’

    A lot of your article is intelligent and fair, and I’m not condoning the actions of this guy, but I don’t think it is SO far away from what the ‘hot’ female music teacher.

    You could argue that what she did was worse because the girl she had sex with was a pupil and under her authority (in fact this is the very reason why feminists forced the law outlawing teacher/pupil relationships evern over the age of consent).

    ‘Posing as a teenager’…sounds pretty much what the kewl jazz lady was doing to impress her pupils.

    Thirdly, you have to remember that the guy will have to live every second of his time in jail in constant fear of being beaten and raped. I don’t think Helen Goddard will have to suffer that.

  12. Aaron

    I find it sad that you went to such great lengths to justify pedophilia love. If the student was even younger would love still justify it? I don’t think so. Helen Goddard should be branded a sex offender. If she were male then she would have been branded as a manipulative rapist and all charges would be seen as inadequate.

  13. Craig Jenkins

    I think you’d be pretty hard pressed to find someone defending this if the teacher had been a man.

    She should have known b etter, but it does seem a rough ride. And I would say the same if it were a man.

  14. geo

    Based on your rationalization any older person who legally rapes a younger person should get a pass if they “feel love” for the person.

    Most sex offenders have a problem in that they feel emotional attractions to people of non legal age and don’t form attachments with those of legal age – that’s why it is a disease. The reason it’s symptomatic of a disease is that it indicates they can’t actually form relationships when the partner is psychological equal or has free will. That indicates a problem on the part of the offender – hence it is a disease or psychological problem.

    Your assumption that most rape is an act of violence or hate has incidentally been disproven by science. There was never any evidence for that idea anyway. That was always a completely created idea driven by those with a anti male political agenda attempting to emotionalize rape even more than it already was. It is an act of sexual urge not hate.

    You either have to redefine rape as sex by force at the immediate threat of violence which would eliminate most modern charges of rape these days or be consistent and consider this girl a rapist.

    • Laurie

      Geo,

      Care to give us links to some of these “scientific findings” (“Your assumption that most rape is an act of violence or hate has incidentally been disproven by science”)? Everything I’ve read about rape establishes it as an act motivated by hate or insecurity (the wish to appear dominant by taking advantage of a physically weaker human being). Amazingly, in the absence of a willing partner, the sexual urge in human beings IS capable of being controlled or channelled elsewhere. No it is! Really!

      I can’t believe your flagrant anti-gay agenda either – so what if a girl’s first sexual experience is with a woman? – but I thought you might as well know that you lost all credibility the moment you tried to argue that rape was innocent.

      • cloblog

        Laurie – I was glad that you flagged up these so-called ‘scientific findings’ that Geo talks about. I was wondering about them myself! Rape, as you say, is completely an act motivated by power. The definition of it cannot be ‘diluted’ as Geo suggests – it will always be a disgusting and abhorrent act that should be punished accordingly.

        As you say Laurie, all credibility lost on that point.

  15. geo

    I think another two points are raised by your discussion.

    The first is:
    If sex doesn’t involve violence or fear of violence should it actually be considered such a horrible crime? One of the justifications for the penalties for rape was that originally it was defined as FORCIBLE SEX with an element of either fear of a weapon or actual violence. If rape has become so diluted in definition does it still warrant the incredible penalties given to men or women who commit it?

    What exactly about a touch or kiss or other act is really harmful? Isn’t it the FORCED nature of such a thing that makes it a crime?

    The other aspect about this PARTICULAR case that is being overlooked is that this older woman has made a homosexual choice for this young girl that will greatly affect her. She caused her to experiment in a homosexual relationship which the girl didn’t have the psychological experience to choose for herself if she wanted to make that choice. While there will be some who will find that distinction politically incorrect – the fact is this girl will suffer much self doubt and will not have had her sexual choices evolve in a way completely under her control. Her homosexual act will rightly or wrongly stigmatize her as well so the offender inflicted that upon this 15 yr old as well. thus this crime has special circumstances that continue far beyond the day of the act.

    As a friend of mine who told me he was homosexually seduced in his youth by his priest told me it greatly affected his normal sexual development as well as being the sexual crime at that moment.

    Thus this teacher not only committed a sex crime now but did something that will rob that young girl of a fresh innocent start in sexual relations and the ability to make her own clear unclouded determination about what makes her happy.

    • cloblog

      I am, for once, at a loss of what to say in response to your comments Geo. Your opinions on rape – that it is a sexual urge and not an act of hate as being ‘driven by those with an anti-male political agenda‘ are truly staggering. To ‘emotionalise rape‘? That is such an oxymoron that I can barely say it out loud.

      You obviously have no experience whatsoever of the emotional and physical pain that (predominantly) women have suffered at the hands of rapists (predominantly male). According to recent statistics for the UK, 1 in 4 women have experienced some form of sexual assault by a man and one third of teenage girls suffer ‘unwanted’ sexual acts. This supposedly in a modern and ‘equal’ society.

      You argue that, according to my argument, a rapist should get a free pass if they ‘feel love‘ for the victim. Are you honestly serious? Anyone that thinks that should be locked up themselves… my point was not that at all – it was that, in this individual case, I do not believe the 15-year-old was ‘raped’. Many people will disagree with this standpoint, and that is fine, but do not try to twist my arugument to win points yourself.

      It is disgusting that you say the teacher has ‘robbed the young girl of a fresh innocent start in sexual relations‘ purely because it was a homosexual one. I for one would love to live in a society where boys and girls were free to explore their sexuality without fear of repression/judgement from people like yourself.

      If rape has become so diluted in definition does it still warrant the incredible penalties given to men or women who commit it?‘ – I am struggling to answer this question as it goes beyond the boundaries of my morals, however, I will say this – rape is a disgusting and hideous crime that warrants severe punishments. Yet it is not merely the act that needs punishing, it is the whole viewpoint in our society that allows 1 in 4 women to go through such attacks that also needs tackling. The act itself is merely a manifestation of the inequality of gender, still, in this country today.

  16. Supercraggs

    Laurie & Cloblog,

    Sorry I never got chance to come back at this issue. I just forgot, as I am exceptionally busy at the minute.

    I still support, given the evaluation of all the evidence, public statements and what has been said about Goddard, not to mention the judge’s decision, that Goddard genuinely loves this girl, and has been stupid at worst, and naive at best.

    I have a huge reply, but I have no intention to argue the point further and rake it back up (this is also contra to Helen’s wishes, who wishes to finish her sentence and get her life back on track.)

    I mainly just wanted to thank Clodblog (whatever your name is 😉 ) for an excellent, and compassionate evaluation of this perfect example of the blanket-laws-public-hysteria-runaway train
    – truly a statistical anomaly indeed.

    And one other thing – Best of luck to Helen Goddard and her young lady!

    Supercraggs.

    • cloblog

      Nice to hear from you Supercraggs (whatever your name is!)… thanks for the kind comments about the blog. It’s possible to subscribe to the blogs now by email (see link on the right hand side of the page next to the blog posts), so feel free to sign up :0) You should read the blog by Barbara Ellen on guardian.co.uk on a similar subject. She has been utterly condemned for her opinion piece (in some ways it is a little naive), but the hysteria is shocking nonetheless. Here’s a link if you want to read it. Unfortunately, the Guardian has stopped comments on it now – but it makes for interesting reading. I tried to have a debate about the issue!

      Both you and Laurie, among others, have made some great comments on this blog post and I appreciate you taking the time – it would make for a boring world if we all agreed eh?

      • Supercraggs

        Hey,

        I have also been following the Madeline Martin case. Yet another example of crazy gone wrong.

        I wrote a huge piece (7000 words) about Helen Goddard, picking her case apart is phenomenally easy and interesting. I wrote a huge refutal for Laurie as well, but it’s not going to be published, as it will not make any difference whatsoever now.

        I have no further interest in debating Laurie, partially because his argument is so framed within the infallibility of law and a patronising patriachicalism about the age of consent that we will never reach any valid consensus, and will instead just be screaming polemic at one another.

        And also…
        People have corresponded with Helen in prison and she wants her sentence finished, her life back on track, and her girlfriend back with minimum attention / fuss as possible.

        I have been saying for years that we punish this shit far too harshly. In the 10 weeks Helen has been in prison we have had two more schoolteachers sent to prison for the same thing.

        While I think the Goddard case is without a doubt the biggest example of this mis-applied legislation, the other 2 are profoundly disturbing in their disproportionality as well.

        Especially Madeline Martin, 32 months is a fucking disgrace. That woman was vulnerable and pathetic. I’m sure 32 months in jail will help with her dying sister and crumbling marriage. Barbara Ellen has called it exactly how it is, and has been vilified by idiots.

        I had hoped that the Goddard case would have been the catalyst to bring this taboo, politically sensitive subject into the light of day for public discussion. Goddard garnered an unheard of level of sympathy from the tabloids and broadsheets alike.

        As Laurie states in his reply (and its the only thing he actually gets right) the sympathy Goddard gets is for the wrong reasons, she gets a free pass from most people because she is young and pretty.

        (She gets a free pass from me because she had no evil intent, has done no harm, her relationship was consensual, and there is more than enough evidence to suggest that she genuinely did not know what she was getting into.)

        My take on the Goddard case is instead of just sympathising with this young lady who has obviously slipped though the cracks, we need to turn this question on its head and think about all the ugly, unattractive, male and female old pupil-shagging teachers and ask the following question…

        IS THE WAY WE PUNISH THIS SORT OF THING, WHEN IT IS CONSENSUAL AND SPONTANEOUS, AND THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF GROOMING OR MANIPULATION – CORRECT AND FAIR? ARE WE REACTING RATIONALLY AND FAIRLY, OR ARE WE ALLOWING A SOCIAL TABOO TO OVERRIDE OUR JUDGEMENT?

        Does the punishment fit the crime?

        I would say no. No it doesn’t not.
        But you try being a politican and go against the incredibly powerful and utterly ignorant voters bloc that is the parental lobby.

        Protect ARE kidz! Even at the cost of justice, reason and common sense.

        That is my last word.
        Good night!

    • Laurie

      “I have no further interest in debating Laurie, partially because his argument is so framed within the infallibility of law and a patronising patriachicalism about the age of consent that we will never reach any valid consensus, and will instead just be screaming polemic at one another.”

      First of all, “HIS”?

      That shows how closely you bothered reading my arguments, considering the very first thing I said on this blog was, “I’m a female teacher…”

      Secondly, “patronizing patriarchalism”? Kids are not there for adults to have sex with. They are NOT. Teachers are not supposed to exploit the kid’s burgeoning sexual urges for their own self-gratification. What’s so hard to understand about that statement?

      I assume you were a kid once – do you look back on your first sexual experimentation with a warm glow of contentment, or with a burning flush of embarrassment? Now, judge how much worse it would be for a kid to have that first experience with an authority figure – someone who was supposed to protect them from making rash decisions, but who instead took advantage of their confusion and immaturity. How would that make the kid feel in later life – “Go me, I scored with the teacher!”, or “I got used just when I was most vulnerable”?

      It’s as likely to be the latter response, isn’t it? Which is why, if the teacher has ANY consideration for the kid at all, they would wait until the kid was able to make an independent rational decision on who they wanted to shag. If it’s “true love”, it can wait until the kid is legal – and best of all, it can wait until the kid is no longer a pupil at the school! If it’s a hormone-fuelled crush, it’ll pass. The teacher should have the kid’s best interests in mind – and yes, that’ll involve a certain measure of self-denial.

      Bottom line: if Goddard had truly “loved” the girl, she’d have seen beyond her own sexual needs. It’s called “self-restraint”. Don’t expect me to applaud a teacher – of whatever gender – who can’t keep their hands off their pupils.

      – Laurie

      • cloblog

        Truth is, Helen Goddard should have waited for the girl to be aged above 16, left her job and then their relationship would not break any laws. However, this did not happen and the fallout has been, in my opinion, unfair. I totally agree Laurie that teachers have a responsibility to not get involved with pupils of any age. Yet, in a case such as this, the punishment should have been a teaching ban (surely that’s enough of a deterrent?) rather than the label of sex offender, seeing as though the pupil was not groomed and was totally consensual and months away from legally being able to consent.

        I do take my hat off to you of course, as being a teacher you probably understand these issues much more than I do.

      • Supercraggs

        Many apologies for getting your sex wrong.

        I have read your replies, just I concentrated on the salient points rather than little details, thanks for so obviously doing the same with mine.

        (Plus in my defense, it took me a while to remember to come back here to post my refutal, things have changed now though, so no point in posting it and dragging things back up, like I said Helen doesn’t want that.)

        “Don’t expect me to applaud a teacher – of whatever gender – who can’t keep their hands off their pupils. ”

        I am getting tired of repeating myself here but one last time – I don’t want you (or anybody) to applaud Helen. I want you to think a little, show her a little compassion and maybe realise that things got more than a bit out of hand here, right? No one is denying (especially Helen) that she fucked up tres tres serieux here, but again a prison sentence is punitive, cruel, and worst of all…pointless.

        So why has one been applied in the days of community sentences and overcrowded prisons? Especially given that the judge said she could still contact her ‘victim’ – it’s fucking farcical! (and implies the judge’s hands were tied)

        “until the kid was able to make an independent rational decision on who they wanted to shag.”
        Here is your patronising patriarchicalism, just in case you didn’t notice it. There is more than enough evidence in this case that shows this kid IS more than capable of making up her own mind. I’m not getting into it, but I thought you might need to hear this for…future reflection.

        And having lost my virginity to a 21 year old raven-haired Irish temptress called Kirsty at 17 1/2 on the Spanish island of Mallorca – Then Yes, YES I do think about being taken advantage of here, quite a lot 😉

        That is most definitely the last word from me.

        Thanks for your input Laurie, even though we are obviously diametrically opposed :), and Cloblog, let me reiterate what I said last time…thanks!

    • Laurie

      Well, having been accused of “patriarchialism” (surely “matriarchialism”, if you must?) for the crime of daring to suggest the girl might be too immature for such a relationship, I have to respond.

      “I am getting tired of repeating myself here but one last time – I don’t want you (or anybody) to applaud Helen.”

      Well, your reply DID sound as if you expected us to think that it was all OK and consensual and “hearts and flowers”, and that we should be rejoicing in the sexual relationship between a teacher and a student.

      “I want you to think a little, show her a little compassion and maybe realise that things got more than a bit out of hand here, right? No one is denying (especially Helen) that she fucked up tres tres serieux here”

      Finally, an admission that what she did was not perfectly acceptable. Thanks.

      “but again a prison sentence is punitive, cruel, and worst of all…pointless. So why has one been applied in the days of community sentences and overcrowded prisons? Especially given that the judge said she could still contact her ‘victim’ – it’s fucking farcical! (and implies the judge’s hands were tied)”

      Yes, I admit a burglar is more likely to be an threat to their immediate environment than Helen Goddard, but – as I said – Goddard was aware of the law and broke it. If she got a free pass out of prison, then it would create a dangerous precedent. So yes, I can concede that she has been punished harshly – but she had to be made an example of, for fear that leniency would encourage other teachers who fancied a spot of sex with their underage pupils. (Notice how, immediately after the student who urinated on the war memorial escaped a prison sentence, a 49-year-old douche in Leeds decided to do the exact same thing? That’s the principle I’m talking about here.)

      “until the kid was able to make an independent rational decision on who they wanted to shag.”
      Here is your patronising patriarchicalism, just in case you didn’t notice it. There is more than enough evidence in this case that shows this kid IS more than capable of making up her own mind. I’m not getting into it, but I thought you might need to hear this for…future reflection.”

      How did Goddard get the whistle blown on her? The girl told her mates. SHE TOLD HER MATES. I’m venturing to suggest that if the 15-year-old were mature enough to enter into such a relationship, she’d be mature enough not to go blabbing about it to her mates and get her lover in trouble, eh? (And quite frankly, no 15-year-old I have EVER encountered has been mature enough for a sexual relationship, in my opinion. They have sex, of course, but – if they must – they should at least do it with an equal, not with someone who holds a position of power over them and could thus theoretically hurt them or force them.)

      “And having lost my virginity to a 21 year old raven-haired Irish temptress called Kirsty at 17 1/2 on the Spanish island of Mallorca – Then Yes, YES I do think about being taken advantage of here, quite a lot.”

      Was she your teacher? Was she able to use a position of power to force you into going further than you were willing to go? Was she able to threaten you with bad grades, expulsion or worse if you disobeyed her or “told on” her?

      I’m all for consensual sexual relationships between equals who are of age – sounds like you had lots of fun! But your experience wasn’t that of a teacher and a pupil. For a teacher to take advantage of a underage pupil’s hormone-fuelled neediness is right up there with a man taking sexual advantage of a very drunk girl: he can certainly argue afterwards that “she was asking for it, she was gagging for it!” but it’s still not acceptable.

      Frankly, even if the teenager is kneeling down in front of the teacher PLEADING for the privilege of giving the teacher head, the teacher should always refuse. If the teacher doesn’t have the self-control not to refuse such an offer, the teacher should quit and find another job.

      I’m not going to say this is my “last word”, just in case you respond, but thanks for this discussion.

      • Supercraggs

        “How did Goddard get the whistle blown on her? The girl told her mates. SHE TOLD HER MATES.”

        I do have one question that I have to ask, and I am being sincere about this here, do you have a link to the source that mentioned this? The reason why is I do remember vaguely that this is how things went wrong, but I can’t remember where I read it. If you have it, I would like to read it.

        Oh bollocks, guess it’s not my last word on this. The problem is that I have debated this to DEATH in other places, while i’ve only made a few posts here. There may have been some ambiguity in what I have posted previously, because I have discussed this case in major detail in other places, and not so much here…

        “Finally, an admission that what she did was not perfectly acceptable. Thanks.”
        It’s not a case that it was perfectly (un)acceptable. Surely you can concede this is a grey area? My justification is that these two knew each other for ages without any sexual contact. They were friends, became close friends, and ended up as lovers. This started platonically through shared interests and, dare I say it, maybe a mental connection?

        To me, this would not have been a massive, massive deal once the full circumstances of the affair were known. To you, it is, but it’s framed through your professional training as a teacher. (which Goddard did not have the full benefit of, see below.)

        However, putting morality aside for a moment, Goddard broke the terms of her employment (don’t shag your students) and as a result could expect to be fired. This is not a concession of whether what she did was wrong or not morally.

        She broke the terms of her employment. She deserved professional, not penal sanctions. I know it’s difficult, its a fucking hard distinction to make, but we have to try, and we have a duty to get it right, it’s a naive young lady’s life we are playing with here.

        (Again, I’ve got an alternative to penal sanctions, but I cannot be arsed to type anymore, I’ve already wrote too much)

        Anecdotal evidence is the best evidence of course, but it happened to me. Great friend of many years (we were both 22), never any sign of anything happening, we fell in love mentally, and the physical stuff just naturally followed. We just kissed one day, and then it was an uncontrollable firestorm from that point forward.

        The major problem I have is that I don’t think Goddard ever consciously crossed the line in a physical sense, it quite literally just *happened*. She never took advantage of this girl, or intended it to happen, it was just a natural progression.

        To me, this bit is merely a difference in perspective we have. You are very professionally minded in this sense that the job comes first and two people genuinely having feelings for one another and not quashing such silliness immediately is a bad thing.

        Love is my priority. I feel that if two people are friends, know each other for years, and find themselves falling in love, it’s probably the real thing. (our relationship lasted 6 years)

        You blame Goddard, I just see it as circumstance. Love can transcend some strange boundaries. And I am a rational person, but like I said, I’ve been there. Plus like I said last time, I’m not sure Goddard knew entirely what she was getting into.

        “SHE TOLD HER MATES.”
        Do we know why she did this? This is pretty stupid, but not sure if there were other circumstances behind it. Of course it’s perfectly possible that she was gossiping / cashing in her social-capital, but there could be other reasons behind it that we don’t know about. Maybe they were spotted by one of her friends?

        This girl was certainly mature enough to do one of two things, she either told the whole truth to the social workers and the police that she initiated it, or she lied for Helen, and convinced said authority figures and a crown court judge. That to me seems like fairly high mental functioning to me. I imagine quite a few 15 yos would break and confess all. (this was part of the huge reply I wrote, but again, not publishing it.)

        Not to mention she convinced her parents to let her travel to Paris – ALONE to meet her sister. There are other examples, but we could go on forever.

        “And quite frankly, no 15-year-old I have EVER encountered has been mature enough for a sexual relationship”
        Again, this is anecdotal evidence. I don’t think an extra 6 months would have flipped a magic switch, but still it’s your opinion, and fair enough. I’ve met very mature 15-year olds.

        “Was she your teacher? Was she able to use a position of power to force you into going further than you were willing to go?”

        You don’t need to analyse this bit, it was supposed to be a bit of brevity! No, she used alcohol and a charming Irish brogue 😉
        I also don’t buy the ‘give me head or get a F-‘ argument either. It doesn’t apply here.

        “For a teacher to take advantage of a underage pupil’s hormone-fuelled neediness”
        Again, see my previous point. I don’t think Goddard took advantage, I think it was just natural. She is meant to be immature herself. The alternative was that she would have had to push away someone that she really liked, maybe she’d crossed a threshold where she could no longer do that.

        You are also aware as well that Goddard was a freelancer aren’t you? She wasn’t a teacher, she was drafted in to give private lessons…
        This would have changed some of the structure of how things worked, you’ll know about this from your job. They would have probably spent a lot more time alone.

        “PLEADING for the privilege of giving the teacher head”
        I know you are satirizing to make your point here, but the extreme nature of your example illustrates my point. What about if the girl was pleading to be kissed? It’s still sexual, but it’s nowhere near on the same level. If someone you like is upset, maybe you would feel obligated.

        Again, I think it’s got to have happened to you for you to understand it.

        “a 49-year-old douche in Leeds decided to do the exact same thing?”

        I haven’t read about this yet…

        But the difference here is INTENT. Our original drunken trailblazer / heretic was out of his fucking skull, this was accepted.
        Our copycat was either sober and being a douche as you suggest, or had a few beers, and was inspired. Either way, unethical intentions were held the second time, not the first.

        The war memorial pisser was a perfect example of what happened to Helen. Little damage done, but it’s considered so heretical that a disproportionate sentence was considered / handed down.
        (Well, it was just posturing in the case of the war memorial pisser. It’s wrong, but this person caused no real damage.)

        Alan RF put it beautifully :

        “Helen Goddard suffers the tarnish of crimes quite different from hers. Her case highlights a total separation of what might be termed “inappropriate relationships” from the ghastly crimes that we have heard of this week in the category of paedophilia. Criminal punishment has to be a deterrent but it is quite wrong that poor Goddard should lose the best part of a year of her life sitting in jail to act as a warning to monsters that have nothing to do with her.”

        This. A million times this.
        No semantics about jobs and a teacher’s guidance. Simply this.

        Thanks for your input, Laurie.

    • Laurie

      Hi Supercraggs!

      “I do have one question that I have to ask, and I am being sincere about this here, do you have a link to the source that mentioned this?”

      Certainly: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1215023/School-teacher-Helen-Goddard-jailed-15-months-lesbian-affair-teenage-pupil.html

      “Oh bollocks, guess it’s not my last word on this.”

      That’s fair enough – we both hold strong views on this issue, and this does at least allow us to define exactly what we believe and why.

      “Finally, an admission that what she did was not perfectly acceptable. Thanks.”
      It’s not a case that it was perfectly (un)acceptable. Surely you can concede this is a grey area? My justification is that these two knew each other for ages without any sexual contact. They were friends, became close friends, and ended up as lovers. This started platonically through shared interests and, dare I say it, maybe a mental connection?”

      Why could it not have continued platonically? Why must everything be considered only to be “sincere” when there’s a sexual element there? I have nothing against friendship, but sexuality can be potentially hurtful enough without bringing the inequality of teacher-and-pupil into the relationship.

      “However, putting morality aside for a moment, Goddard broke the terms of her employment (don’t shag your students) and as a result could expect to be fired. This is not a concession of whether what she did was wrong or not morally.”

      Fair enough, but the issue of her being fired was never in doubt: it’s the issue of her being imprisoned that’s being debated. All that was necessary for Goddard to have escaped the gaol cell was to keep things at a platonic level until the girl was sixteen, then she could have resigned her post as a teacher and been free to be with the girl. Just a year. She could even have explained things to the girl in detail, if the girl was as mature as you say she was! But no, Goddard wasn’t even capable of that level of self-restraint. I still have no sympathy.

      “She broke the terms of her employment. She deserved professional, not penal sanctions. I know it’s difficult, its a fucking hard distinction to make, but we have to try, and we have a duty to get it right, it’s a naive young lady’s life we are playing with here.”

      As I said before, you don’t get a job in a top-level private school by being completely “naive”. It may have suited her defence lawyer to play the “Goddard is a child at heart” card, but Goddard wasn’t an untouched virgin and she would have been aware of the rules about not forming sexual relationships with pupils. You don’t need a PGCE to be aware of that. (I do concede that, as cloblog has pointed out, private schools have slightly-blurred boundaries when it comes to pupil and teacher relationships. I admit that they may have formed a close bond far more quickly than a similar situation in a normal comprehensive. Even so, nobody forced Goddard to have sex with this girl.)

      “Anecdotal evidence is the best evidence of course, but it happened to me. Great friend of many years (we were both 22), never any sign of anything happening, we fell in love mentally, and the physical stuff just naturally followed. We just kissed one day, and then it was an uncontrollable firestorm from that point forward.”

      You were both equals, so that’s just great. But Goddard, as an employee of the school, should have had the self-control to step back and say, “I can’t” or “We need to wait”.

      “The major problem I have is that I don’t think Goddard ever consciously crossed the line in a physical sense, it quite literally just *happened*. She never took advantage of this girl, or intended it to happen, it was just a natural progression.”

      And you accuse *me* of using “semantics”? “Just happened”, indeed. Everything we do, we choose to do. Helen Goddard chose to give in to temptation. Please accord her the dignity of making her own rational choices. She was not ignorant of sexuality – she’d had boyfriends – so she would have known how these things progress, and she would have known where the danger zone was. Goddard was far more aware of the danger zone than the inexperienced girl would have been, but she, Goddard, *chose* not to draw back at any point. Let’s be clear on that.

      “To me, this bit is merely a difference in perspective we have. You are very professionally minded in this sense that the job comes first and two people genuinely having feelings for one another and not quashing such silliness immediately is a bad thing.”

      True – but again, if you can’t step back and remind yourself that this is a kid in your care, not a sexual being, then you really shouldn’t be teaching. (I’m assuming you’re not a teacher?)

      “Love is my priority. I feel that if two people are friends, know each other for years, and find themselves falling in love, it’s probably the real thing. (our relationship lasted 6 years)”

      If it’s true love, it can wait until both partners are legal. Someone should have told Goddard the age-old motto, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t come back, it never was.”

      “SHE TOLD HER MATES.”
      Do we know why she did this? This is pretty stupid, but not sure if there were other circumstances behind it. Of course it’s perfectly possible that she was gossiping / cashing in her social-capital, but there could be other reasons behind it that we don’t know about. Maybe they were spotted by one of her friends?”

      Even so, the mere fact that she thought it a good idea to confide in her mates – even as an explanation – does not testify to her maturity. (And let’s face it, at the first sign of danger she should have warned Goddard so that they could be more cautious: instead, she let the relationship continue with the same heedless abandon so that both were eventually caught at Goddard’s house. Mature? Not on this evidence.)

      “This girl was certainly mature enough to do one of two things, she either told the whole truth to the social workers and the police that she initiated it, or she lied for Helen, and convinced said authority figures and a crown court judge. That to me seems like fairly high mental functioning to me. I imagine quite a few 15 yos would break and confess all. (this was part of the huge reply I wrote, but again, not publishing it.)”

      She’s loyal, and she felt guilty about precipitating the crisis in the first place – but it still doesn’t mean she’s mature.

      “Not to mention she convinced her parents to let her travel to Paris – ALONE to meet her sister. There are other examples, but we could go on forever.”

      On the Eurostar there’s very little chance of being mugged or otherwise assaulted. The parents waved her off at St Pancras and thought the sister would be waiting for her at Gare du Nord; that doesn’t mean the girl can be automatically considered an adult.

      “And quite frankly, no 15-year-old I have EVER encountered has been mature enough for a sexual relationship”
      Again, this is anecdotal evidence. I don’t think an extra 6 months would have flipped a magic switch, but still it’s your opinion, and fair enough. I’ve met very mature 15-year olds.”

      We’ll agree to disagree there, as our indicators of “maturity” may differ.

      “Was she your teacher? Was she able to use a position of power to force you into going further than you were willing to go?”
      You don’t need to analyse this bit, it was supposed to be a bit of brevity! No, she used alcohol and a charming Irish brogue
      I also don’t buy the ‘give me head or get a F-’ argument either. It doesn’t apply here.”

      But it COULD apply. That’s the problem with teacher/student relationships, otherwise they’d be happening all over the place wouldn’t they? There’s also the converse, where the teacher gives help or high marks to the student s/he happens to be shagging. Is that supposed to be acceptable?

      “For a teacher to take advantage of a underage pupil’s hormone-fuelled neediness”
      Again, see my previous point. I don’t think Goddard took advantage, I think it was just natural. She is meant to be immature herself. The alternative was that she would have had to push away someone that she really liked, maybe she’d crossed a threshold where she could no longer do that.”

      “Meant to be immature herself” – again I say, you don’t get a plum job like that by being immature. As for pushing that person away, I have an alternative proposal for that: see below.

      “PLEADING for the privilege of giving the teacher head”
      I know you are satirizing to make your point here, but the extreme nature of your example illustrates my point. What about if the girl was pleading to be kissed? It’s still sexual, but it’s nowhere near on the same level. If someone you like is upset, maybe you would feel obligated.”

      Let’s not be naive: a kiss is not an everyday occurrence. If someone asks you for a kiss, it is a sexual come-on.

      Here’s my proposal of what Goddard could have done. Let’s assume the girl WAS mature: why then could Goddard not have sat her down and addressed her as follows? “Alice [or whatever the girl’s name is], if I kiss you I may lose my job. Do you want me to lose my job?”

      If the girl was the mature responsible adult you suggest, she would have seen that she was placing her beloved teacher in an impossible position, and she would have backed off. On the other hand, if the girl heard that argument and STILL chose to pursue Goddard, then the girl was not mature… and by accepting the sexual invitation Goddard took advantage of her immaturity.

      As for the “war memorial pisser”, I used that example to illustrate the danger of lenient sentencing. If the student had been imprisoned, would the 49-year-old douche have copied him? I doubt it. As it was, the lenient sentence made the guy think, “Right, I can piss on the memory of the glorious dead with impunity”. Hence the dangers of light sentences for offenders.

      “The war memorial pisser was a perfect example of what happened to Helen. Little damage done, but it’s considered so heretical that a disproportionate sentence was considered / handed down. (Well, it was just posturing in the case of the war memorial pisser. It’s wrong, but this person caused no real damage.)”

      I consider disrespect to those who sacrificed their lives for this country to be a pretty serious offence. Sure, nobody got physically injured, but by not punishing the student properly the judge sent out the message that it was “OK” to disrespect the war dead. There’s been a war memorial defaced in Cambridge recently, too – as you see, a floodgate’s been opened and I cannot agree that no harm is being done as a result.

      Alan RF put it beautifully :

      “Helen Goddard suffers the tarnish of crimes quite different from hers. Her case highlights a total separation of what might be termed “inappropriate relationships” from the ghastly crimes that we have heard of this week in the category of paedophilia. Criminal punishment has to be a deterrent but it is quite wrong that poor Goddard should lose the best part of a year of her life sitting in jail to act as a warning to monsters that have nothing to do with her.”

      This. A million times this.

      No semantics about jobs and a teacher’s guidance. Simply this.”

      SEMANTICS about a teacher’s guidance? I assure you that a teacher does have to provide moral guidance – even more so today than previously, when more and more parents are failing to teach their kids the basics of behaviour. Kids get sexualized from an early age nowadays: it’s the teacher’s duty – yes, DUTY – to let the kids know that the world is run on professional lines as well.

      When a teacher shags a pupil, it’s a betrayal of the profession. So please don’t use flowery phrases like “love” when “irresponsibility” and “giving in to temptation” will do. I agree Goddard was not a sick predator, but she was not an innocent and she chose to have a sexual liaison with an underage girl. That has to be seen to be punished, lest other teachers come away with the idea that “sex with a pupil is OK if the pupil’s the one to initiate things”.

      It’s not OK.

      Thanks for your input, Supercraggs.

  17. cloblog

    Laurie, Supercraggs – I love you guys! Thanks for taking the time to comment – it makes for a great debate and both of you are very eloquent at putting your arguments across 🙂

  18. Supercraggs

    Cloblog : Thanks for that 🙂

    That’s fair enough – we both hold strong views on this issue, and this does at least allow us to define exactly what we believe and why.

    – Yes we do! This IS MY last word though, it’s just getting too long, and we are going round in circles and speculating to a degree on what could be chinese whispers.

    “Why could it not have continued platonically? Why must everything be considered only to be “sincere” when there’s a sexual element there? I have nothing against friendship, but sexuality can be potentially hurtful enough without bringing the inequality of teacher-and-pupil into the relationship.”

    – Just doesn’t work like that. If you find a connection of that magnitude, it’s only natural that it progresses to physical expression. We are just wired that way. It can be potentially damaging in the context of student-teacher relationships, hence laws. This, and it is my sincere belief, is NOT one of those occasions.

    More damage was done to these two by their relationship being outed. You can of course, blame Goddard for not having the foresight to realise the consequences, BUT you cannot blame her for not foreseeing that the fire would be THIS fierce. And again, let’s not get into semantics, lots of news stories have called Goddard immature for her age.

    – (Having known a former artistic prodigy that had a very similar upbringing to Goddard (dont ask me to quote where or why, just trust me) she was indeed young for her age, and naive in the extreme. (Woo! More anecdotal evidence!)

    Fair enough, but the issue of her being fired was never in doubt: it’s the issue of her being imprisoned that’s being debated.
    – Truth.

    All that was necessary for Goddard to have escaped the gaol cell was to keep things at a platonic level until the girl was sixteen, then she could have resigned her post as a teacher and been free to be with the girl. Just a year. She could even have explained things to the girl in detail, if the girl was as mature as you say she was! But no, Goddard wasn’t even capable of that level of self-restraint. I still have no sympathy.

    – Then you have a fairly hard heart, and I still think you have the ‘burden of knowledge’ bearing in mind you are a teacher. It can both cloud and bring insight to your judgement.

    Call me too soft by all means, but the first time I skimmed this case it sounded horrific (i.e. all Goddard’s fault), once I looked behind it, objectively, it’s nowhere near as clean cut as simple
    child abuse. And don’t forget, the charges Goddard was imprisoned for were child abuse – i.e. statutory rape. The ‘betrayal of trust’ clause is just a legal catch-all for punishing people who do something we find heretical. The fact that a 17 and 11 month year old person can be influenced to the degree that you claim, i.e. fuck me or get expelled is laughable, and you know it.

    – Therefore, if Goddard wanted to keep her job, then it would have been closer to 2 1/2 years. She could have quit of course, and that’s something I am sure is currently haunting her nightmares as we speak.

    As I said before, you don’t get a job in a top-level private school by being completely “naive”. It may have suited her defence lawyer to play the “Goddard is a child at heart” card, but Goddard wasn’t an untouched virgin and she would have been aware of the rules about not forming sexual relationships with pupils. You don’t need a PGCE to be aware of that. (I do concede that, as cloblog has pointed out, private schools have slightly-blurred boundaries when it comes to pupil and teacher relationships. I admit that they may have formed a close bond far more quickly than a similar situation in a normal comprehensive. Even so, nobody forced Goddard to have sex with this girl.)

    – Did you read the bit about Goddard is not actually a teacher? Goddard is a MASTER musician, who’s credentials as a trumpeteer were enough to have her brought in to do PRIVATE lessons. That was misreported in the news. The defence lawyer merely reiterated what other people said before Goddard was sentenced, including her father and friends of hers. An untouched virgin – no, but also, relatively new to love with ladies. As far as we can reasonably discern, Goddard is a child grown older. (this may be inaccurate. I hope so, it’s kind of insulting.)

    – You don’t need to have a PGCE, truth. But it is entirely possible that a person who had not come the official route into teaching, may not know about legal technicalities such as the betrayal of trust clause. Even if Goddard was MEANT to have been told, a private school may have forgotten / glossed over it. The very fact that in the victim impact statement the parents QUOTED that Goddard told them that they could have carried on seeing each other when the daughter was > 16 implies to me ABSOLUTELY that she had no idea that she would have still been jailed under betrayal of trust.

    – The fact that Goddard was giving ONE-TO-ONE lessons to private pupils makes a BIG fucking difference. As well as Cloblog’s statement that the lines blur in private schools. This is true, I have worked with voluntary aided schools and private schools (not a teacher, as a member of the LA). They honestly do things differently. I am not twisting the truth here, many non-state schools have different, non-standardised procedures. I can honestly imagine Goddard may not have been given quite as much training as she should have. She was just expected to teach the kiddies how to play wind instruments.

    Elements may have been forgotten / glossed over, and I can’t imagine a person who just wants to teach music cared enough to seek it out.

    You were both equals, so that’s just great. But Goddard, as an employee of the school, should have had the self-control to step back and say, “I can’t” or “We need to wait”.
    – True, and fine. What I am trying to illustrate her, is that I, as a person who has been called ‘rational (compliment) and cold (bit of an insult)’ to ‘a human computer’ (serious insult), If I can fall in
    love like I described and do something crazy, then it can happen to pretty much anyone. Afterall, those musicians and artists are generally an emotional bunch, no? And also, articles describe that Goddard DID do this, at first.

    And you accuse *me* of using “semantics”? “Just happened”, indeed. Everything we do, we choose to do. Helen Goddard chose to give in to temptation. Please accord her the dignity of making her own rational choices. She was not ignorant of sexuality – she’d had boyfriends – so she would have known how these things progress, and she would have known where the danger zone was.

    – Semantics are important here as we are describing intent. Intent is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It’s important here.

    “Please accord her the dignity of making her own rational choices.”
    – But you make constant excuses for the girl’s behaviour, and villify Goddard under the banner of ‘immaturity’? Tad subjective here. The only real fuck-up from the girlfriend was telling her idiot friends (it was secret for 5 months remember), and we do not have enough information to do anything other than speculate why.

    – They should have fisher or gillick competencied this girl. (this was part of the article I wrote.)

    “Goddard was far more aware of the danger zone than the inexperienced girl would have been, but she, Goddard, *chose* not to draw back at any point. Let’s be clear on that.”

    – I don’t know here. From the sounds of things, the danger zone had already been reached. These two were already incredibly attracted to one another mentally, and both may have struggled to pull away. The nature of their contact as well (hg was a freelancer, one to one teacher) meant there would have been no inbetween. It would have been cut the girl off, or stay alone one to one in her presence. Also, HG might have had a slight problem explaining to the Head and the parents why she couldn’t teach their daughter anymore. If Goddard had told the truth about what almost happened, it still might have been enough to get her fired. Prestigious schools like that have a tendency to over-react about stuff like that. Remembering that as a freelancer, she could have been binned with no comeback at the FIRST sign of trouble.

    “To me, this bit is merely a difference in perspective we have. You are very professionally minded in this sense that the job comes first and two people genuinely having feelings for one another and not quashing such silliness immediately is a bad thing.”

    True – but again, if you can’t step back and remind yourself that this is a kid in your care, not a sexual being, then you really shouldn’t be teaching. (I’m assuming you’re not a teacher?)

    – I’m a researcher who is just waiting for the right PhD package. Make of that what you will.
    Goddard won’t be teaching anymore! That could have happened without prison time.

    If it’s true love, it can wait until both partners are legal. Someone should have told Goddard the age-old motto, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t come back, it never was.”
    – That is a charming saying, I like it!
    – It would have been a fucking long time until both partners were legal though. Remembering that this girl persued her quite heavily as well. This was accepted in court, and is borne out by the text message records. (Helen – it was a stupid idea to give her your mobile number!)

    Even so, the mere fact that she thought it a good idea to confide in her mates – even as an explanation – does not testify to her maturity. (And let’s face it, at the first sign of danger she should have warned Goddard so that they could be more cautious: instead, she let the relationship continue with the same heedless abandon so that both were eventually caught at Goddard’s house. Mature? Not on this evidence.)
    – True. It certainly does not testify to her maturity. If the girl is naive and immature though, I guess she trusted close friends to stay quiet, I can’t imagine she ran up to the first person she saw and
    gave it a ‘wahay!’. Also, who’s to say that this girl saw the danger coming? 15 year old girls don’t do confrontation per se. If they have a nasty rumour, it spreads about you in secret. I can imagine that
    by the time it got back to her, the whistleblower had already heard it.

    She’s loyal, and she felt guilty about precipitating the crisis in the first place – but it still doesn’t mean she’s mature.
    – She certainly is loyal indeed. The problem is that if she is naive, her first instinct might have been to save herself first, especially when you’ve got social workers asking you leading questions about “you’re not in trouble! just tell us where the bad lady touched you!” coupled with authority figures like the headteacher and the police. If she resisted, it was either the truth, or she’s very
    quick indeed.

    On the Eurostar there’s very little chance of being mugged or otherwise assaulted. The parents waved her off at St Pancras and thought the sister would be waiting for her at Gare du Nord; that doesn’t mean the girl can be automatically considered an adult.

    – I still wouldn’t have been allowed to do it at her age. Things can go wrong even in a taxi or a bus on the way home, to write this off as a star trek style teleporter between the smoke and the city of light is disingenous, this is still a 3 hour journey. Kids that grow up in London are likely to grow up faster, and be more metropolitian. Again, I say its some evidence of precocious-ness. The fact that said sister was not a la Gare du Nord, and there was no followup even whether she had arrived. hmmmm…
    (I reckon the sister was in on it. I bet she became friends with Goddard as well. She even kept in touch with her when it all came to light.)

    We’ll agree to disagree there, as our indicators of “maturity” may differ.
    – Yes we will. That’s the only way forward here. (The very fact we have to agree to disagree shows how utterly subjective this subject is however :P)

    But it COULD apply. That’s the problem with teacher/student relationships, otherwise they’d be happening all over the place wouldn’t they? There’s also the converse, where the teacher gives help or high marks to the student s/he happens to be shagging. Is that supposed to be acceptable?

    – If you have been following the news over the last 6 months, they ARE bloody going on all over the place! Imagine the ones that don’t get detected!

    – And no, that’s not acceptable at all. But Goddard’s lover would have been old enough to talk to someone if she was being abused. Also, given Goddard’s job position (freelancer) she would not have wielded enough authority here to ever make that situation come to pass. It COULD apply, I give you that, but here it doesn’t, hence why Helen gets let off by me. This was not child abuse. The judge saw it, about half the nation saw it, even the daily mail saw it.

    “Meant to be immature herself” – again I say, you don’t get a plum job like that by being immature. As for pushing that person away, I have an alternative proposal for that: see below.
    – Again, you would be right here, but Goddard’s position as a freelancer clarifies this (this is not common knowledge). Goddard did not get this job because she is a brilliant teacher in the formalised
    frameworks of PGCE, Gifted and Talented, Advanced Skills teacher whatever, she got the job because she is an awesome musician. Also, it may be a prestigious school, but that doesn’t mean Goddard got a prestigious rate of pay! She may not even have been formally waged, she may have relied on a small cohort of regulars to pay her mortgage every month. Calling it a ‘plum’ job is again, something we know very little about.

    Let’s not be naive: a kiss is not an everyday occurrence. If someone asks you for a kiss, it is a sexual come-on.
    – Bad example, you’re right. What about a hug or a kiss on the cheek?

    Here’s my proposal of what Goddard could have done. Let’s assume the girl WAS mature: why then could Goddard not have sat her down and addressed her as follows? “Alice [or whatever the girl’s name is], if I kiss you I may lose my job. Do you want me to lose my job?”

    – Actually, Goddard did resist at first. Blame her for being weak, if you must.

    If the girl was the mature responsible adult you suggest, she would have seen that she was placing her beloved teacher in an impossible position, and she would have backed off. On the other hand, if the girl heard that argument and STILL chose to pursue Goddard, then the girl was not mature… and by accepting the sexual invitation Goddard took advantage of her immaturity.
    – True. All I can say in retort is that they obviously both wanted this, and maybe they had spent too much time together and had too much chemistry. Who knows?

    As for the “war memorial pisser”, I used that example to illustrate the danger of lenient sentencing. If the student had been imprisoned, would the 49-year-old douche have copied him? I doubt it. As it was, the lenient sentence made the guy think, “Right, I can piss on the memory of the glorious dead with impunity”. Hence the dangers of light sentences for offenders.

    – Well, it’s a fantastic example (as well as a beautiful name for him ;)), as the guy caused no actual harm, but it is HERESY in the minds of people. People wanted this guy DEAD. Emotional offense however does not equal a criminal act, even though the fucking authorities seem to be trying to make it so these days. It’s also not my fault if I commit something like this and an idiot chooses to copy me. We do not live in the age of censorship and sacrelige anymore, even though again, many would love a return to it.

    Also, in a parallel with the damage done by the publicity caused by the Goddard case, would said 49-yo douche (and he IS a fucking douche)
    have even had his inspiration for copycatting IF THE STORY HAD NOT BEEN DISPROPORTIONATELY COVERED AND OUTED. It’s not worthy of being national fucking news for christ’s sake. Some pillock got wasted and
    didn’t know where he was pissing, it could have been a gravestone, that’s still disrespectful to the dead. This partially restored some of my faith in the justice system, so glad to see the judge saw reason and didn’t surrender to the mob, or try to make a name for himself as some ‘harsh justice’ bastard. You would be AMAZED the number of harsh sentences that are handed just out to show the judge has balls, the judge KNOWS that the sentence will be reduced on appeal. Again, just posturing for the masses.

    I consider disrespect to those who sacrificed their lives for this country to be a pretty serious offence. Sure, nobody got physically injured, but by not punishing the student properly the judge sent out
    the message that it was “OK” to disrespect the war dead. There’s been a war memorial defaced in Cambridge recently, too – as you see, a floodgate’s been opened and I cannot agree that no harm is being done as a result.

    – You don’t make the laws dear. And I am very glad of that. The law should never concern itself with moral outrage. The law should be about sticks and stones, not words.

    Again, many desire a return to these days. It’s not war memorial pisser’s fault that people are idiots. Does it not illustrate that no floodgate has been opened at all? These anti-war sentiments (or iconoclasty masquerading as politics?) are ALREADY there? War memorial pisser just provided the example.

    I feel sorry for that kid. Thank God the judge saw reason.

    – I do not support the current ‘wars’ (formalities with tanks more like) but WWI and WWII were functions of neccesity.

    I also think defacing a war memorial is wrong, and disrespectful to the memory of what can happen if we are not careful. Those poor kids got sent to the slaughter en masse.

    Ironically, the ones who want us to most remember and show respect for those days, are the ones who are dragging us back down that road to hell.

    Enough politics.

    Alan RF put it beautifully :

    “Helen Goddard suffers the tarnish of crimes quite different from hers. Her case highlights a total separation of what might be termed “inappropriate relationships” from the ghastly crimes that we have heard of this week in the category of paedophilia. Criminal punishment has to be a deterrent but it is quite wrong that poor Goddard should lose the best part of a year of her life sitting in jail to act as a warning to monsters that have nothing to do with her.”
    – I still stand by this entirely. Eloquent and concise, Alan.

    SEMANTICS about a teacher’s guidance? I assure you that a teacher does have to provide moral guidance – even more so today than previously, when more and more parents are failing to teach their kids the basics of behaviour. Kids get sexualized from an early age nowadays: it’s the teacher’s duty – yes, DUTY – to let the kids know that the world is run on professional lines as well.

    When a teacher shags a pupil, it’s a betrayal of the profession. So please don’t use flowery phrases like “love” when “irresponsibility” and “giving in to temptation” will do. I agree Goddard was not a sick predator, but she was not an innocent and she chose to have a sexual liaison with an underage girl. That has to be seen to be punished, lest other teachers come away with the idea that “sex with a pupil is OK if the pupil’s the one to initiate things”.

    – Do not insult our mutual intelligence by loading the question and simplifying the argument as either-or. ‘Irresponsibility’ and ‘love’ are hardly antonyms, I would say they are more ‘horse and carriage”!

    – Who’s morals? Helen Goddard would not be a prisoner or a criminal in my world. She’d have been booted out of the profession, never to darken the door again. And much like the General Medical Council, the General Teaching Council would have ensured that she would be struck off, never to teach again. (again, more from t’article that i never published.)

    – Either way, she would never be a (theoretical) danger to children again.

    But she wouldn’t be paying the incredibly heavy price for a stupid irresponsibility / stupid mistake. (DELETE ACCORDING TO POLITICAL WORLDVIEW?)

    – Also, we will differ on this, but deterrence is a FUCKING slippery slope indeed.
    By denying the central tenet of the justice system “The punishment must fit the crime.” then you deny all the disproportional suffering of prisoners throughout the millenia that it took for people to finally say “this is not right”.
    Hence why our fucked-up legal system is the envy of the world. It sucks, but enlightenment is a relative term when it comes to crime and punishment.

    – Thailand has insane penalties for drug smuggling, yet its still one of the easiest countries in the world to buy dope in.
    Admittedly – that’s not apples for apples comparison, but it’s an example.

    It’s not OK.
    – It’s not, but it’s not child abuse or prison-worthy either.

    Thanks for your input, Supercraggs.
    – Likewise. Thanks for the discussion, and being the only worthy opponent I have faced yet on this subject. Let’s finish by invoking Voltaire and all that jazz (lady!).

    And last but by no means least…
    Two last questions. I don’t care if you refute the rest, but please answer these for me. These are unframed and in neutral language.

    1. Do you think Helen Goddard deserves her 15 months in prison?
    2. Do you think Goddard and her girlfriend should be allowed to contact either other while Helen is in prison, or not? (vis a vis – the judge’s determination)

    Just curious to see what you think about these two.

    Best regards,
    SuperCraggs

    • Laurie

      Hi SuperCraggs!

      “Cloblog : Thanks for that 😉 ”

      And the same from me: thanks very much for allowing us to air our views in your blog!

      Now, to business…

      Re: Why not platonic?
      “Just doesn’t work like that. If you find a connection of that magnitude, it’s only natural that it progresses to physical expression. We are just wired that way.”

      Again, “only natural” and “wired that way” implies that human beings have no control over themselves once they become sexually aroused; of course I disagree with that, because that’s the rapist’s argument, isn’t it? “I saw him/her, and I just couldn’t help myself!” Or, to use a less emotive example, “I know I’m supposed to be on a diet, but I saw the bar of chocolate and couldn’t help myself!”

      I know certain urges can seem overwhelming, but put it in context: there is always a way out, a way of saying “no”, and if you choose not to take that way out, then that’s your choice.

      “It can be potentially damaging in the context of student-teacher relationships, hence laws. This, and it is my sincere belief, is NOT one of those occasions.”

      How can you tell? One minute it’s “the girl AND the teacher are both immature”, the next it’s “but this relationship is a wonderful thing!” Quite frankly I think ANY relationship within a hierarchy is a dangerous thing. Any relationship where one partner has the power to ruin the other is a bad idea, and that goes double for children who are just starting to be assailed by their hormones and hence liable to confuse “liking” and “respect” with the sexual urge. I used the earlier analogy of the drunken girl being taken advantage of because I meant it.

      “More damage was done to these two by their relationship being outed. You can of course, blame Goddard for not having the foresight to realise the consequences, BUT you cannot blame her for not foreseeing that the fire would be THIS fierce. And again, let’s not get into semantics, lots of news stories have called Goddard immature for her age.”

      (Having known a former artistic prodigy that had a very similar upbringing to Goddard (dont ask me to quote where or why, just trust me) she was indeed young for her age, and naive in the extreme. (Woo! More anecdotal evidence!)”

      I take your word for the naivety of such prodigies, but no matter how immature one is, one would still know that children are off-limits. That’s practically rule number one in modern teaching: you are not allowed to touch the kid, EVER, even to stop them doing something wrong or violent. Just laying a finger on a kid can bring you to court.

      Case in point: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1505764/Nursery-owner-in-court-after-stopping-toddler-from-hitting-a-baby.html

      Re: My statement that I still have no sympathy
      “Then you have a fairly hard heart, and I still think you have the ‘burden of knowledge’ bearing in mind you are a teacher. It can both cloud and bring insight to your judgement.”

      It certainly allows me to bring issues other than “love conquers all” to the debate, true.

      “Call me too soft by all means, but the first time I skimmed this case it sounded horrific (i.e. all Goddard’s fault), once I looked behind it, objectively, it’s nowhere near as clean cut as simple child abuse. And don’t forget, the charges Goddard was imprisoned for were child abuse – i.e. statutory rape. The ‘betrayal of trust’ clause is just a legal catch-all for punishing people who do something we find heretical. The fact that a 17 and 11 month year old person can be influenced to the degree that you claim, i.e. fuck me or get expelled is laughable, and you know it.”

      The girl wasn’t 17, though, she was 15. Regarding the statutory rape, that HAS to come into effect regardless of whether the younger person was “gagging for it” or not. Every sexual encounter with a minor has to be treated that way, because the onus is on the adult to behave responsibly towards that younger person. (And yes, I do think teaching the kids to “wait until you know what you’re doing” is a good idea. Pregnancy was never a danger in this case, but taking a relationship from the platonic to the sexual does have the capacity to cause emotional damage. A teacher shouldn’t do that to a pupil.)

      “Therefore, if Goddard wanted to keep her job, then it would have been closer to 2 1/2 years. She could have quit of course, and that’s something I am sure is currently haunting her nightmares as we speak.”

      Yes, it would have been easier all round if she’d have quit, or else taken an extended leave of absence. At the very least, if she was convinced that she loved that girl, she did have other options: from what you’re telling me, she was a extremely talented freelancer whose skills would have been in demand at other places.

      Re: Goddard’s status
      “Did you read the bit about Goddard is not actually a teacher? Goddard is a MASTER musician, who’s credentials as a trumpeteer were enough to have her brought in to do PRIVATE lessons. That was misreported in the news. The defence lawyer merely reiterated what other people said before Goddard was sentenced, including her father and friends of hers. An untouched virgin – no, but also, relatively new to love with ladies. As far as we can reasonably discern, Goddard is a child grown older. (this may be inaccurate. I hope so, it’s kind of insulting.)”

      “Love with a lady” is presumably the same as “love with a bloke” (I’ve only ever experienced the latter, but there’s the same pattern of awakening realization, isn’t there?) As for her status as a private tutor, well, more on that below.

      “You don’t need to have a PGCE, truth. But it is entirely possible that a person who had not come the official route into teaching, may not know about legal technicalities such as the betrayal of trust clause. Even if Goddard was MEANT to have been told, a private school may have forgotten / glossed over it. The very fact that in the victim impact statement the parents QUOTED that Goddard told them that they could have carried on seeing each other when the daughter was > 16 implies to me ABSOLUTELY that she had no idea that she would have still been jailed under betrayal of trust.”

      Either that, or Goddard was bluffing (as the parents thought). I know that a tutor is given the whole spiel by the school and made to sign agreements before they’re let loose on the kids. The school has to do that, to cover itself. Ignorance couldn’t be a defence here.

      “The fact that Goddard was giving ONE-TO-ONE lessons to private pupils makes a BIG fucking difference. As well as Cloblog’s statement that the lines blur in private schools. This is true, I have worked with voluntary aided schools and private schools (not a teacher, as a member of the LA). They honestly do things differently. I am not twisting the truth here, many non-state schools have different, non-standardised procedures. I can honestly imagine Goddard may not have been given quite as much training as she should have. She was just expected to teach the kiddies how to play wind instruments.”

      But the school would have made her aware – they would have had to.

      Also, the fact she was essentially coming in from outside gives events a whole new spin – as an instrumental tutor only, she would not have had the same cohesion in the life of the school as the main teaching body. I had previously pictured Goddard being unable to escape contact with the girl in her daily routine: however, instrumental teachers don’t figure in the life of the school to nearly the same extent.

      How often would she have come in – two, three days a week? I know she chose to give lunchtime sessions, but she could have cancelled those – and if one-to-one tuition was proving problematic for her, she could have suggested “Hey girls, why don’t I see how your duets are coming along? Both of you to the practice room, Monday!” Bring a third person in – starve the situation of the oxygen it needs to develop into a raging passion. Overall, the fact that Goddard was an outside agent has given me even less sympathy, as she did have more freedom to back away than an average teacher would have had.

      “True, and fine. What I am trying to illustrate her, is that I, as a person who has been called ‘rational (compliment) and cold (bit of an insult)’ to ‘a human computer’ (serious insult), If I can fall in love like I described and do something crazy, then it can happen to pretty much anyone. After all, those musicians and artists are generally an emotional bunch, no? And also, articles describe that Goddard DID do this, at first.”

      Yes, it looks to me like this is something I can’t really comment on, as I seem to have an innate awareness of where “the line” between platonic friendship and sexual relationship falls, and when I cross that line I make a deliberate decision to do so. From what you’re saying, not everyone does that, so I’ll have to hold my hands up on that one.

      I would, however, state that Goddard should have taken precautions so that she didn’t slide closer to that line.

      “Semantics are important here as we are describing intent. Intent is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It’s important here.”

      OK, fair enough – I just got the impression that semantics had been dismissed earlier on, as in the statement “no semantics about a teacher’s guidance”.

      “Please accord her the dignity of making her own rational choices.”
      – But you make constant excuses for the girl’s behaviour, and villify Goddard under the banner of ‘immaturity’? Tad subjective here.”

      Did I really make excuses for the girl’s behaviour? Stating that she’s assailed by her hormonal impulses and sexual curiosity is not “making excuses”, it’s a description of virtually any 15-year-old girl in existence. I’m saying such girls are in serious danger of being hurt at a vulnerable age, and for that reason adults need to refuse their sexual overtures when they’re offered.

      Also Goddard’s “immaturity” is not so much a vilification as her primary defence. I still say, immature or not, she would have been more aware of the development of sexual attraction than the 15-year-old would have been.

      “The only real fuck-up from the girlfriend was telling her idiot friends (it was secret for 5 months remember), and we do not have enough information to do anything other than speculate why.”

      What I’m saying is that this is evidence for the girl NOT being mature enough to have such a relationship – so arguing that the relationship should go ahead because the 15-yr-old was essentially an adult doesn’t really fly.

      “They should have fisher or gillick competencied this girl. (this was part of the article I wrote.)”

      She’s undoubtedly very bright intellectually – she wouldn’t be at City Girls’ if she weren’t – but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t have been at the mercy of her hormones, and capable of being exploited.

      “I don’t know here. From the sounds of things, the danger zone had already been reached. These two were already incredibly attracted to one another mentally, and both may have struggled to pull away. The nature of their contact as well (hg was a freelancer, one to one teacher) meant there would have been no inbetween. It would have been cut the girl off, or stay alone one to one in her presence.”

      Or bring in a third party to stop the closeness, as I suggested earlier. There are always ways and means.

      “Also, HG might have had a slight problem explaining to the Head and the parents why she couldn’t teach their daughter anymore. If Goddard had told the truth about what almost happened, it still might have been enough to get her fired. Prestigious schools like that have a tendency to over-react about stuff like that. Remembering that as a freelancer, she could have been binned with no comeback at the FIRST sign of trouble.”

      Quite, which is why the line needs to be trodden carefully: I chose to act oblivious when I got the inevitable “come-on”, though thankfully I was in no way attracted to that boy. There are strategies, though – could Goddard not have invented a boyfriend, or pretended to be 100% straight, just so the girl would back away? The priority is getting the girl to back off without hurting her feelings too much – her welfare has to figure ahead of the teacher’s desires.

      This is the crux of the problem: one camp states that a fifteen-year-old should be allowed to have a sexual relationship with his/her teacher, whilst the other thinks that such a relationship can potentially hurt the fifteen-year-old. Ultimately, I think a relationship has to be between people who are equals.

      “True – but again, if you can’t step back and remind yourself that this is a kid in your care, not a sexual being, then you really shouldn’t be teaching. (I’m assuming you’re not a teacher?)
      – I’m a researcher who is just waiting for the right PhD package. Make of that what you will.
      Goddard won’t be teaching anymore! That could have happened without prison time.”

      Yeah, but if she skips prison, more teachers are tempted to cross that line. “SHE got away with it…”

      Re: “If you love something, set it free…..”
      – That is a charming saying, I like it!
      – It would have been a fucking long time until both partners were legal though.”

      About a year – the age of consent is 16. A long time for the girl, but if she was truly mature she’d have been willing to wait for the sake of not getting her teacher into trouble.

      I will, however, suggest one reason why Goddard did NOT let the girl go free or trust her to wait for her – perhaps it was because she knew instinctively that her main source of attraction to the girl WAS her status as a teacher. Had she met with the girl on equal terms outside the school, perhaps the girl would not have been so starry-eyed about her? This is only a theory, but if it’s valid here I still have no sympathy for Goddard: if the girl is only attracted because of the “teacher status”, then that’s not much of a basis for a relationship. That’s an immature crush, and – again – Goddard should not have taken advantage.

      “Remembering that this girl pursued her quite heavily as well. This was accepted in court, and is borne out by the text message records. (Helen – it was a stupid idea to give her your mobile number!)”

      Why didn’t Goddard change her number? Inconvenience, yes, but if she wanted to get out of the situation she could have done that. So let’s make it clear that Goddard did not discourage the pursuit.

      “True. It certainly does not testify to her maturity. If the girl is naive and immature though, I guess she trusted close friends to stay quiet, I can’t imagine she ran up to the first person she saw and gave it a ‘wahay!’. Also, who’s to say that this girl saw the danger coming? 15 year old girls don’t do confrontation per se. If they have a nasty rumour, it spreads about you in secret. I can imagine that by the time it got back to her, the whistleblower had already heard it.”

      She should have let Goddard know, “Oh by the way, X and Y know about us”. Keeping secrets from your partner, especially secrets which could potentially hurt her – not good.

      “-She certainly is loyal indeed. The problem is that if she is naive, her first instinct might have been to save herself first, especially when you’ve got social workers asking you leading questions about “you’re not in trouble! just tell us where the bad lady touched you!” coupled with authority figures like the headteacher and the police. If she resisted, it was either the truth, or she’s very quick indeed.”

      Oh yes, that does testify to a strong loyalty and is indeed one of the more heartening things about this story, that the girl risked censure to protect Goddard. I still say, though, that it’s a shame Goddard didn’t back off in order to protect her from such a dangerous sitation in the first place.

      Re: Eurostar
      “- I still wouldn’t have been allowed to do it at her age. Things can go wrong even in a taxi or a bus on the way home, to write this off as a star trek style teleporter between the smoke and the city of light is disingenous, this is still a 3 hour journey.”

      In a sealed tube, with hundreds of other people in close proximity. (And a posh sealed tube, to boot; no danger of the fare-dodger, the care-in-the-community case, the aggressive beggar or the mugger on THIS train!)

      “Kids that grow up in London are likely to grow up faster, and be more metropolitian. Again, I say its some evidence of precocious-ness. The fact that said sister was not a la Gare du Nord, and there was no followup even whether she had arrived. hmmmm…
      (I reckon the sister was in on it. I bet she became friends with Goddard as well. She even kept in touch with her when it all came to light.)”

      Yes, that sounds very plausible – but again, just because the sister was “in on it” doesn’t mean it’s all OK.

      Re: The Problem with Teacher/Student Relationships
      “- If you have been following the news over the last 6 months, they ARE bloody going on all over the place! Imagine the ones that don’t get detected!”

      Like any crime they’re not always caught, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come down heavily on them when you do find them! Madeleine Martin, for instance – look at what the boy says about their relationship.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1232750/I-regret-happened-I-shouldnt-gone-The-15-year-old-pupil-seduced-RE-teacher-reveals-ruined-life.html

      How is that a harmless liaison? How is that anything other than an adult projecting her needs onto a vulnerable child? Goddard’s case isn’t NEARLY as bad, obviously, but the fallout from these cases is not minor. That boy has had his education disrupted because of this, and he’ll be left with sexual hang-ups for sure.

      Adults shouldn’t be having sex with their pupils. Fact.

      “- And no, that’s not acceptable at all. But Goddard’s lover would have been old enough to talk to someone if she was being abused. Also, given Goddard’s job position (freelancer) she would not have wielded enough authority here to ever make that situation come to pass. It COULD apply, I give you that, but here it doesn’t, hence why Helen gets let off by me. This was not child abuse. The judge saw it, about half the nation saw it, even the daily mail saw it.”

      It was, however, a case of a teacher being unable to control herself around a pupil. You cannot simply give the teacher a pass because “she’s immature” and “these things happen” – they shouldn’t happen for the pupil’s sake, and the teacher is expected not to encourage such behaviour. Even if both sides have genuine emotion for each other, the professional element will inevitably get in the way, and one side has to give – the professional or the emotional. If this had been a case of “love conquers all”, Goddard should have quit the school.

      “- Again, you would be right here, but Goddard’s position as a freelancer clarifies this (this is not common knowledge). Goddard did not get this job because she is a brilliant teacher in the formalised frameworks of PGCE, Gifted and Talented, Advanced Skills teacher whatever, she got the job because she is an awesome musician. Also, it may be a prestigious school, but that doesn’t mean Goddard got a prestigious rate of pay! She may not even have been formally waged, she may have relied on a small cohort of regulars to pay her mortgage every month. Calling it a ‘plum’ job is again, something we know very little about.”

      Well, from my experience of the students at City Girls’, the job would be a plum one simply because they’re uniformly well-behaved and hard-working! 😀 But yes, I do get your point that the wages may not have been huge.

      Re: “Alice [or whatever the girl’s name is], if I kiss you I may lose my job. Do you want me to lose my job?”
      – True. All I can say in retort is that they obviously both wanted this, and maybe they had spent too much time together and had too much chemistry. Who knows?”

      If Goddard did come out with this argument, though, then the girl was bloody selfish for continuing on a course of behaviour which would have hurt Goddard if it were uncovered. There’s no way of getting away from that.

      re: The “war memorial pisser”
      – Well, it’s a fantastic example (as well as a beautiful name for him ), as the guy caused no actual harm, but it is HERESY in the minds of people. People wanted this guy DEAD. Emotional offense however does not equal a criminal act, even though the fucking authorities seem to be trying to make it so these days. It’s also not my fault if I commit something like this and an idiot chooses to copy me. We do not live in the age of censorship and sacrelige anymore, even though again, many would love a return to it.”

      Oh dear – the age of “censorship and sacrilege” really has been replaced by the age of “I can do as I please”, hasn’t it? It’s the person who chucks his rubbish out of the car in a town centre and justifies it with, “So what? Who am I hurting?” Well, it’s hurting standards. It’s hurting the sense that people should try to behave in a decent manner for the sake of a cohesive society. Yes, essentially we ARE all evolved apes, but it doesn’t mean we can’t control ourselves.

      In the absence of public toilets he could have pissed in a hedge; it would have been discreet and hurt no-one. But no, he chose to piss on a war memorial in flagrant abandonment. That’s crossing a line, and he should have been given a stronger punishment for it.

      “Also, in a parallel with the damage done by the publicity caused by the Goddard case, would said 49-yo douche (and he IS a fucking douche)
      have even had his inspiration for copycatting IF THE STORY HAD NOT BEEN DISPROPORTIONATELY COVERED AND OUTED. It’s not worthy of being national fucking news for christ’s sake. Some pillock got wasted and didn’t know where he was pissing,”

      He chose to get wasted. In my book, you get the sentence according to your behaviour and the choices you make. (If he could have claimed his soft drink had been spiked, that’s different, but that wasn’t the case here.)

      And yes, it got disproportionate media coverage, but the case is essentially this: when a middle-class student engages in this kind of behaviour, what does it say about society and what is society going to do about it? It was made by the media into a test-case, I grant you, but even if it hadn’t been nationally publicized I’d have wanted a stronger punishment for the original offence.

      “it could have been a gravestone, that’s still disrespectful to the dead.”

      Yes, and again I’d want that punished. Where DO people get off on hurting other people? A bereaved son coming to his mother’s grave to mourn is not going to want to be hit by the reek of urine as he kneels down…

      “This partially restored some of my faith in the justice system, so glad to see the judge saw reason and didn’t surrender to the mob, or try to make a name for himself as some ‘harsh justice’ bastard. You would be AMAZED the number of harsh sentences that are handed just out to show the judge has balls, the judge KNOWS that the sentence will be reduced on appeal. Again, just posturing for the masses.”

      Tell me about the posturing for the masses – judges need to hand out the REAL sentences, not the official ones. If the public were aware that “three years” meant “eighteen months or less” in practice, they might rise up en masse.

      Re: let’s piss on the war dead, why not?
      – You don’t make the laws dear. And I am very glad of that. The law should never concern itself with moral outrage. The law should be about sticks and stones, not words.

      Ok, so you don’t believe that BNP supporters chanting racist slogans at a Muslim woman counts as worthy of the law’s intervention then? I disagree: I say, the sooner you come down on minor offences, the smaller the likelihood of these things escalating to serious crimes. It’s the “broken windows” theory: if louts think society doesn’t care about the small stuff, they’ll commit the small-scale offences… and then they’ll think they can’t be caught, so they’ll try their hand at the harder stuff.

      Of course, nowadays we have minor crimes being punished excessively (the guy who left out his wheeliebin being given a whacking great fine – what?) whilst one-man crimewaves go without punishment! Mad…

      http://www.harlowstar.co.uk/harlowstar-news/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=459627

      But this shows the “hey whatever” attitude is far too lax; sure, you can claim the high-ground of “tolerance for all”, but I believe it’s the absence of standards which has led to many of the problems with youth today. If their parents won’t instill standards in them, then society has to provide a deterrent. Maybe then their self-protective instinct will stop them, since respect for their fellow human beings clearly doesn’t operate.

      “Again, many desire a return to these days. It’s not war memorial pisser’s fault that people are idiots.”

      No, the war memorial pisser WAS the original idiot, and his being let off the hook gave the green light to all the others.

      “Does it not illustrate that no floodgate has been opened at all? These anti-war sentiments (or iconoclasty masquerading as politics?) are ALREADY there? War memorial pisser just provided the example.”

      No, I completely disagree. If you hate the war, you contact your MP, you go on marches. You do NOT piss on the memory of those braver and better than you. “Anti-war sentiment” is a nonsense excuse – this was not a protest against Afghanistan, this was a boy thinking he’d be shocking and daring. I say, let him suffer the legal consequences of being “shocking and daring”, and maybe fewer people will see war memorials as available targets for their urine, their spray-cans or whatever.

      “I feel sorry for that kid. Thank God the judge saw reason.”

      “Reason”? What a great incentive for the troops – lose your life in combat, and the society you fought to protect won’t even lift a finger to punish the desecration of your memorial. Terrific!

      “- I do not support the current ‘wars’ (formalities with tanks more like) but WWI and WWII were functions of neccesity.”

      Yes, but you think it’s OK for today’s youth to piss over the names of those who died in WWI and WWII. Next!

      “I also think defacing a war memorial is wrong, and disrespectful to the memory of what can happen if we are not careful. Those poor kids got sent to the slaughter en masse.”

      But today’s youth using their war memorial as a toilet is fine by you. Next!

      “Ironically, the ones who want us to most remember and show respect for those days, are the ones who are dragging us back down that road to hell.”

      Well, I wouldn’t call myself one of those dragging society back down the road to hell; I’ve explained why I think social cohesion is a good thing.

      Re: Back to Goddard
      – Do not insult our mutual intelligence by loading the question and simplifying the argument as either-or. ‘Irresponsibility’ and ‘love’ are hardly antonyms, I would say they are more ‘horse and carriage”!”

      Yes, it’s the great get-out of present-day society – “I was off my head on drink, drugs or pheromones, so I’m not responsible for my actions!” I say you choose to take the drink, you choose to take the drugs and you choose to succumb to the allure of another human being, so you can’t act as if you’re a passive victim of something beyond your control. Even irresponsibility is a choice.

      “- Who’s morals? Helen Goddard would not be a prisoner or a criminal in my world. She’d have been booted out of the profession, never to darken the door again. And much like the General Medical Council, the General Teaching Council would have ensured that she would be struck off, never to teach again. (again, more from t’article that i never published.)”

      I agree with that – as I said, once you’ve crossed the line you can’t be trusted with minors again.

      “- Either way, she would never be a (theoretical) danger to children again. But she wouldn’t be paying the incredibly heavy price for a stupid irresponsibility / stupid mistake. (DELETE ACCORDING TO POLITICAL WORLDVIEW?)”

      Well, as you know by now, I consider touching kids to be far worse than a crime against property. The property doesn’t care what you do to it; the kid may well end up hating the teacher for taking advantage, or hating themselves for being so naive, or be left with serious neuroses in general. Think of the kids, really.

      “- Also, we will differ on this, but deterrence is a FUCKING slippery slope indeed.
      By denying the central tenet of the justice system “The punishment must fit the crime.” then you deny all the disproportional suffering of prisoners throughout the millenia that it took for people to finally say “this is not right”.”

      What is right at one time may be seen as an abuse by a later generation: people one hundred years ago may stand aghast that so much power was used on private computers, or that animals were actually slaughtered for food! Even taking that shifting of values into account, the fact remains that there was a rule, the rule was there for a good reason (the protection of children – even from themselves!), and if the rule was transgressed it had to be punished.

      Failure to punish it would require a modification in the law – and do we want actual abusers trying to slip out of punishment by saying “the kid wanted it!” or “It’s love?” Of course not.

      “Hence why our fucked-up legal system is the envy of the world. It sucks, but enlightenment is a relative term when it comes to crime and punishment.”

      “Relative” is fudging the issue. Did the teacher know the rules? Yes. Did the teacher transgress anyway? Yes.

      “- Thailand has insane penalties for drug smuggling, yet its still one of the easiest countries in the world to buy dope in.
      Admittedly – that’s not apples for apples comparison, but it’s an example. ”

      Yes, that’s pretty mad, but again, if you take drugs you usually harm no-one but yourself (and your family and friends, should you be found dead). Touching kids, you have the potential to cause SO much long-lasting damage that you really shouldn’t.

      “It’s not OK.
      – It’s not, but it’s not child abuse or prison-worthy either. ”

      It’s taking advantage of a kid when in a position of power – as I keep saying, a child should not be regarded as fully able to make all their own choices in life until they turn 16, and that would include sex. An adult shouldn’t assume a kid is mature enough, they should wait until the magic age has been reached. It’s a blanket rule, but it’s there to stop confusion and subjective judgements.

      “Thanks for your input, Supercraggs.
      – Likewise. Thanks for the discussion, and being the only worthy opponent I have faced yet on this subject. Let’s finish by invoking Voltaire and all that jazz (lady!).”

      Two last questions.

      “1. Do you think Helen Goddard deserves her 15 months in prison?”

      No, but ONLY because far worse offenders are walking out of court with suspended sentences. Put next to them, it’s mad. However, when it’s considered on its own – an adult in a position of power taking advantage of a child’s overactive hormones – it is an abuse of trust and it should be punished. Much as Goddard is a sympathetic person in herself, she did something wrong when she chose not to wait. But no, I wouldn’t actually put her in prison in an age where prolific burglars get nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

      “2. Do you think Goddard and her girlfriend should be allowed to contact either other while Helen is in prison, or not? (vis a vis – the judge’s determination)”

      Yes, you have your finger on the heart of the problem – if this is a proper separation, to allow the girl to make up her mind in the absence of Goddard’s influence, then to still allow them contact is a bit silly! I would actually have been more amenable to Goddard being banned from teaching and forbidden from contacting the girl for two years. That would have been time enough for the girl to tell whether it was “love” or “a crush”.

      And the point was always, “Wait and see when the girl’s 16, then resign your teaching position and you can be with her all you want”…

      Best wishes,
      Laurie

  19. Supercraggs

    Laurie,

    We have a fundamental difference of opinion and we have reached the end. I’ve got plenty more to say, but it’s taking too long, and I don’t have the damn time.

    We are not getting anywhere on the issue of mistake vs. irresponsibility. These are core internal values that are a unique part of your soul.

    I am not happy about letting some of the stuff you say stand, but at the end of the day we are going round in circles. Neither of us can truly know what was going through Goddard and her lover’s head, all we can do is play the odds and guestimate. I still maintain that given what I have read, what I understand of human nature, and insights into Goddard’s character, that the dice fall on my side and Goddard should have been given the benefit of the doubt and spared a prison sentence, and the reasons why she was jailed are the wrong reasons.

    One thing I must reply to though is this –

    “attraction to the girl WAS her status as a teacher.”
    If I thought this was true, then I would also be lining up to pelt Goddard in the stocks. This would make her very deserving of her prison sentence. This is a very negative assumption of Goddard’s character though, and the judge was satisfied that ‘Goddard did not groom her with the offence in mind’.

    – Also, these two knew each other for 3 years. If they’d known each other for 2 weeks before they
    started fucking, it might have been different. The fact that they became friends after knowing
    each other for a long time to me implies that this was genuine affection with turned into
    attraction, rather than lust, or Goddard abusing her authority (which I still maintain she never
    really had, and the girls knew it as well, I can imagine she was seen as more of an outsider and
    maybe thats why she was so popular.)

    A couple of last bits, these are more material rather than abstract notions of morality…

    “Either that, or Goddard was bluffing (as the parents thought).”
    – Bluffing about what? I don’t understand this bit. Bluffing to make it look like she didn’t know the law?

    Yes, that sounds very plausible – but again, just because the sister was “in on it” doesn’t mean it’s all OK.”
    – No it doesn’t. That was more of an aside than a salient point. But no one will know the girl better than her sister (for me its my brother), and she would have had to exercise her judgement in whether to blow the whistle or not.

    “How is that a harmless liaison? How is that anything other than an adult projecting her needs onto a vulnerable child?”
    – That’s obviously done some serious harm. But I still have issues with again, the LENGTH of Martin’s sentence, that woman went insane for a week. Prison is certainly going to be good for her obviously fragile mental health as well.
    She definitely projected said needs, the question is why?

    “Oh dear – the age of “censorship and sacrilege” really has been replaced by the age of “I can do as I please”, hasn’t it?”
    Oh dear – Have I just outed a “Golden Age Moralist”? Again, the above are not antonyms of one another. You’re seeing what you want to see.

    “In the absence of public toilets he could have pissed in a hedge; it would have been discreet and hurt no-one.”
    It still would have been illegal though! 😉

    “Ok, so you don’t believe that BNP supporters chanting racist slogans at a Muslim woman counts as worthy of the law’s intervention then?”
    No I do not. It’s not the law’s place to be regulating free speech, no matter how abhorrent or utterly idiotic. Voltaire again.
    It’s often counter-productive as well (see Streisand effect)
    (This one is a special one to me, as I live in Nottingham, and I was there when the riot kicked off today)

    “Anti-war sentiment” is a nonsense excuse – this was not a protest against Afghanistan, this was a boy thinking he’d be shocking and daring.”
    – It wasn’t any of these things darling, it wasn’t that complicated. It was a kiddie who couldn’t stand the heat, and should have stayed out of the kitchen. Framing it as anything else is unfair. You’re projecting your politics here.

    “I was off my head on drink, drugs or pheromones, so I’m not responsible for my actions!”
    – We could have a COLOSSAL debate about this one. But not picking up that grenade with the pin pulled out.

    “What is right at one time may be seen as an abuse by a later generation”
    – Ha ha ha. You seem a bit too staunchly conservative for a moral relativist.

    “Failure to punish it would require a modification in the law – and do we want actual abusers trying to slip out of punishment by saying “the kid wanted it!” or “It’s love?” Of course not.”
    – So it’s right that a person is penalised under a law that morally should not apply to them? We can do what is easy, or we can do what is right. Every case has its own merits, and must be judged as such.

    “Think of the kids, really.”
    – The most dangerous phrase that has ever been uttered. If someone has to use this provocative phrase to justify something, you need to turn the question on it’s head and think why.

    It’s taking advantage of a kid when in a position of power – as I keep saying, a child should not be regarded as fully able to make all their own choices in life until they turn 16″
    – Agree to disagree. Blanket policies are inherently dangerous and flawed. They are a neccesary evil. I still maintain you have a very patriachical worldview.

    “1. Do you think Helen Goddard deserves her 15 months in prison?”
    It is mad. The sentencing policies have lost their way.

    “2. Do you think Goddard and her girlfriend should be allowed to contact either other while Helen is in prison, or not? (vis a vis – the judge’s determination)”

    This is not a proper seperation in the lines of marriage guidance. This is a woman who has been convicted of child abuse, been given penal sanctions, hauled up before the beak and branded a criminal. The fact that she has been convicted of child abuse and is STILL allowed to contact her ‘victim’, well there are just no words to describe what a logical anti-thesis it is. The truth of the Judge’s attitude is held entirely in this part of the determination. He’s either a raving lunatic (how the evil Melanie Phillips framed it) or that his hands were tied and he disagreed with jailing Goddard, but had no choice.

    (if he had freed her, there would have been the papers screaming sexism, classism, positive discrimination and favouritism. The state would have appealed the verdict, poor Goddard would have been dragged back into court in 3 months time, the media would have brought the thunder, a new judge would have been appointed, and with the negative publicity Helen would have been looking at what Madeline Martin got. Justice is blind, so who’s the one-eyed man?)

    best,
    SuperCraggs

  20. wwmargera

    more appalling sexism from women…

  21. powergamer

    The law is the law, the standard must be applied to all.

    The fact that a woman committed the acts should not mean anything; if the situation were reversed (man instead of woman), he would be demonized and far more public outcry would have been known. She was given more freedoms than most men would have received.

    The great inequities in the legal system must be amended. The law must be blind to gender if equality can be attained.

  22. Cassandra

    I believe that biggest topic missing from this debate is an adequate definition of love. I get mine from the bible, in particular 1 Corinthians 13. For those who are less biblically minded I believe we can all agree that the highest form of love is the sacrificing of self. I believe that definition alone shows that whatever “feelings” may have arisen between Goddard and her pupil to define it as love would be inappropriate. As a music teacher myself I understand the close bonds that can be formed between a teacher and pupil. I can remember with fondness particular music teachers that I had that I was closer with than my regular teachers. I believe the one-on-one format of private lessons also adds to those bonds. Which can place music teachers in a more precarious situation than others.
    This “love” between Goddard and her pupil has resulted in nothing but pain and loss for them both. Seeing those results leads me to believe that it wasn’t love to propelled Goddard into this relationship but rather lust. Goddard should have seen the end from the beginning and known that whatever she may have felt for her pupil now was not the time to act upon those feelings. To truly love someone is to want what is best for them. Goddards actions show that she wasn’t really concerned with what was best for either her pupil or herself.
    It’s an interesting analysis on the moral state of affairs of the world that everyone would rather applaud Goddard for finding true “love” than for truly acting in love and restraining herself from engaging in this forbidden relationship.

  23. David

    As a red blooded American male who thinks of Ms. Goddard as one of the sexiest women I’ve ever seen, I must say that I wish that she had been MY 26 year old teacher when I was 15 (and a high school sophomore) so she could have “taught” me ANYTHING she felt I needed to learn to become a “well rounded” young man….. (considering what age I began reading Playboys for the “articles”, I’d have been eager and honored to “learn” from her even as early as 12….but I digress…)

    I will also state that it is MY opinion (as well as MOST of society’s) that if the teacher in one of these “scenarios” were male, and the student female, the standard of right and wrong / what is acceptable is TOTALLY different, as it should be…. A perfect example would be the mindset of a father of two teenage children…..let’s say one is a 16 year old son in the 11th grade and the other is a 15 year old daughter in the 10th grade. “Traditional” conventions would have this father “high fiving” his son for scoring with a smoking hot older woman…(way to go son!) while the same father would probably be facing a manslaughter charge if the same situation occurred between his 15 year old daughter and a substantially older man…..like it or not, there IS a double standard…..that’s just the way it is. Nature dictates that a guys job is to talk his way into a girl’s pants, while a “decent” girl is supposed to keep him out. Right or wrong, I didn’t make the rules…..sorry…. (Now, unfortunately, I’m sure the “Politically Correct” crowd will demand their pound of flesh for my honesty)

    David – Pride, Louisiana USA

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