Indecent act in classroom 'not public'

A teacher accused of committing an indecent act in his classroom will argue the charge should be thrown out because the incident did not happen in a "public place".

The man, whose name is suppressed, appeared in Auckland District Court this morning facing a charge of "wilfully doing an indecent act in a public place" in June last year.

His lawyer Richard Earwaker indicated he would argue that a classroom did not fit that criteria.

Judge Grant Fraser disagreed but said ultimately it would be a matter to be decided at judge-alone trial.

The defendant worked for more than a decade at the prestigious school where the alleged incident happened.

The school's name remains suppressed.

In court today the police said the case would hinge around evidence to be given by two boys who were witnesses.

There would be five witnesses in all, including police officers who had attended the scene and "re-enacted" the incident.

The man was suspended by the school after the complaint was made and he subsequently resigned the following month.

The NZ Teachers Council confirmed the man had signed a voluntary undertaking not to teach, but had been suspended anyway.

"We know about the charges and our disciplinary investigation will be completed, a tribunal hearing conducted and a decision handed down after the criminal processes are completed," a council spokesman has said.

"In criminal charges of this kind we wait for the criminal process to run its course." At a name suppression hearing in June, Judge Claire Ryan said publication of the ex-teacher's name would have "devastating consequences"for members of his family.

The case will come before the court again this month when a date will be set for the day-long judge-alone trial.

- Rob Kidd of APNZ

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