A former Holy Spirit College music teacher has been jailed for more than two years for having a sexual relationship with one of his students from a South Australian school.
Matthew John Freeborn, 45, pleaded guilty to maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child while he was a teacher at a school in Fleurieu Peninsula, which is near Adelaide, over a seven-month period.
Freeborn was a music teacher at St Joseph's Catholic High School, Albion Park in 2002 and 2003, and at Holy Spirit College, Bellambi from 2004 to 2010.
Judge Joanne Tracey sentenced Freeborn to four years and two months jail with a non-parole period of two years and four months in an Adelaide court this week.
She labelled his actions as an "appalling breach of trust" as he was the teen's teacher in a "position of authority".
"You truly have little insight into the role that you played in this relationship, your appalling breach of trust, the reasons why such relationships are so damaging, the damage you have caused to the complainant or an understanding that justification for your offending cannot be retrospectively applied," she said.
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The court heard Freeborn, who was unhappy in his marriage at the time, contacted the young woman outside of school via a gamming app which led to them to having regular communication.
Freeborn also loaned the teen books, one concerning a college professor which detailed graphic sex scenes he had with one of his students.
The relationship escalated and they began regularly kissing, usually in the classroom, before they started having sexual intercourse.
Judge Tracey said Freeborn told a clinical psychologist that he knew the relationship with the teen was "wrong".
"You described the complainant as a very confident, highly intelligent and extremely attractive female who was significantly taller than you, who had a super model-like appearance," she said.
"You say the complainant exuded a persona of maturity, confidence, assertiveness, worldliness and control.
"By contrast you described yourself as naive, inadequate, unassertive and overwhelmed."
Judge Tracey said the clinical psychologist's report showed Freeborn "appeared to lay blame" on the student.
"I have received a number of photographs and messages that went between you and the complainant said to support your perception that your conduct was not predatory, and that the relationship was one of mutual genuine love and affection," Judge Tracey said.
"The strength in your position of authority is what made you attractive to the complainant."
Judge Tracey went on to say the woman's life revolved around "guarding the secret".
"You told her that what you were doing was okay and that the rules and law prohibiting your relationship were the harming factor," she said.
"She believed you loved her, had her best interests at heart and that you were trustworthy.
"Despite this she felt shame and overwhelming guilt in that she was being dishonest with everyone in her life.
"Clearly, the effect your offending has had on the complainant has been extensive and is on ongoing.
"Fortunately, she has learnt that the shame she has carried for so long is actually not hers to carry."
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong said the conviction was not related to any school in the Wollongong Diocese.
"The offence occurred in South Australia some years after [Freeborn] had resigned employment with Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong," he said.
"The welfare and safety of children and young people in our schools is always our first priority.
"We strongly urge any person with any complaint of mistreatment or abuse to inform the appropriate authority.
"If the complaint is of a criminal nature, the police should be notified.
"Should a current or former student, parent or carer need assistance with this, or if the matter is not of a criminal nature, the Catholic Education Office is available to provide assistance."
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