A religious education teacher from Kent was spared jail this week after having sex with a 16-year-old female pupil on two occasions.
Stuart Kerner took the girl’s virginity on a yoga mat at the school, but this case has hit the headlines mainly because of the judge’s closing statements.
Judge Joanna Greenberg ruled that there was no evidence that the 44-year-old had groomed her, saying ‘if anything, she groomed you’, labeling her ‘intelligent and manipulative’.
Kerner was allegedly ‘emotionally vulnerable’ as the week before the sexual encounter his wife had suffered a miscarriage, but is this really a valid enough excuse to excuse his behaviour?
With this case in mind, MM took to the streets and asked:
Can a 16-year-old school girl be blamed for grooming a teacher?
Just under half of people asked believed that a student could be held accountable for sexually grooming a teacher in a position of power.
But can this suggestion of a real-life Lolita generation of girls really be true?
Meisha Garvey, a student from Fallowfield, explained how she could see temptation and responsibility on both sides.
The 22-year-old said: “Even without the age difference, he’s been put in a trusted role and if he’s feeling vulnerable and not in control, he should be on leave not at school.
“However, I do think a 16-year-old can seduce a 44-year-old. I don’t think age really makes a difference if someone’s persistent.
“I read a book called End of Alice and that has a pretty similar moment in it where a 12-year-old knowingly tries to persuade a pedophile… pretty disturbing.”
HER GUARDIAN: Rosie Harris says the teacher was abusing his powers
But some people asked believe the student should not and cannot be accused of grooming as the incident would be a blatant abuse of the position of power the teacher obtains.
Rosie Harris, studying drama at University of Manchester, said: “I would say he is her teacher therefore he is her guardian at the school. He is the one in the position of power regardless who apparently seduced who.
“Obviously miscarriage is very sad but if he was that emotionally vulnerable he should not have been teaching full stop,” the 20-year-old added.
Interestingly, some suggested a pupil of 16 does have the potential to groom a teacher and how it is a factor of the sexualized environment children are growing up in these days.
MODERN WORLD: Alex Oliver believes the internet exposes young girls to sexual images
Alex Oliver, 22, a Nando’s employee, said: “Girls definitely have the power to seduce, even younger than her – at 14 or 15 perhaps.
“In today’s society young girls are exposed to more sexual images and the internet does not limit the extent of information they are open to.”
In comparison, some suggested this that if the gender roles were swapped, the outcome would potentially have a different result.
28-year-old Ian Smith, an audio brander who lives just off Deansgate said: “Girls use their sexuality to get where they want to be in some cases and use different things to their advantage.
“If it was flip reversed people may have had less to say and a different outcome as it is more controversial.”
David Jones, who works in finance, 26, from Rochdale said: “There seems to be a lot more fuss than when it is the opposite way round with the genders.
“Only recently I remember a similar case flipped and the woman walked free from court. Double standards once again.”
Sixth form student Caitlin Colquhoun, 18, from Greater Manchester said: “He is stupid to fall for it as he is a grown man – it is like the jumping off a cliff analogy.
“If someone says do it or tries to tempt you into doing it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. He should just admit his mistake.”
LIKE JUMPING OFF A CLIFF: Caitlin Colquhoun says temptation shouldn’t lead to action
Jane Smith, a 32-year-old marketing assistant from Stockport, said: “If you are in a role with a certain responsibility you are expected to maintain a certain level of professionalism.”
Mature student Sophie Taylor, from Fallowfield, said: “The carrying of the condom is one factor that shows he was involved and responsible the same amount if not more than she was.
“It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, he clearly thought a lot about it and the fact that he did it on school grounds makes it even worse.”
Retail assistant Ben Wood, from Trafford, thought the mental state Mr Kerner found himself in could not be an excuse for his behavior.
The 21-year-old said: “The miscarriage a week before is awful and it was no doubt a tricky moment in their marriage.
“Surely he should have been there for his partner, not fantasizing about some school girl in his class that had fancied him for such a long time.
“It was probably an ego boost and I feel sorry for his wife.”
Fergus Macphee, 20, living in the city centre, added: “Something jars with me. If you are a 44-year-old man who can be with a 16-year-old girl then that says more about you.”
Main image courtesy of Derek Bruff, with thanks.