A teaching assistant responsible for children’s welfare and child protection has been jailed for grooming and sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl.
John Davies, 48, exchanged more than 1,500 text messages with the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and manipulated her into sexual activity.
He began by touching her leg and would often get the teen alone so he could then touch her private parts.
Father-of-two Davies was jailed for three years after he pleaded guilty to eight charges of having sexual activity with a child.
Bristol Crown Court heard how Davies would have known about the appropriate boundaries between adults and children through his work, but chose to ignore them.
Davies, from Avonmouth, Bristol, was responsible for children’s welfare in his role as chairman of the junior section of Avonmouth Old Boys RFC and child protection issues through his job at Henbury School, Bristol.
Charles Thomas, prosecuting, said concerns were raised about Davies both by the school and the rugby club.
Mr Thomas said: “It was about the manner and nature of the defendant’s contact and behaviour, with young girls aged 14 and 15, at the school and at the club.”
The court was told that the school issued Davies with a formal written warning regarding unauthorised contact with girl pupils via text messages and social network site Facebook.
Davies was also warned over his behaviour at the rugby club where he was coaching the under-15s girls’ team.
Mr Thomas said that despite the cautions Davies targeted a youngster – who was not a pupil at the school or a member of the club – and manipulated her into sexual activity.
The court heard that Davies would begin by touching the teen’s leg, and when she told him she would not turn 16 for months, he told her: “That’s too long”.
He would then get the girl alone so he could touch her private parts.
The pair also exchanged more than 1,500 text messages, some of which were of a sexually explicit nature.
The abuse only stopped when the girl finally confessed to her mum what was happening and the police were alerted.
Davies accepted sending the girl the large number of texts, but despite conceding it was inappropriate, he initially denied sexual activity.
Edward Burgess, defending, said: “He had a deluded and distorted view that, for whatever reason, at that stage in his life he thought it was appropriate to carry on in this way with a girl of this age.
“She was just under a year below the age of legal sexual consent.”
Mr Burgess added that his client had not threatened the girl and said there were occasions when she invited him to come and see her, without any move on his part to engineer a situation.
He told the court: “The shame on him, his wife and children is incalculable. How they will survive this is not for me to say, but it will not be easy at all.”
Jailing Davies, Judge Martin Picton told him: “As a teaching assistant and lead contact for child protection issues, you knew the boundaries that should be expected between someone of your age and a young and impressionable girl.
“You chose deliberately to over-step those boundaries, which set you to groom and corrupt the victim in order to obtain sexual gratification.”
Davies denied witness intimidation – by sending the girl a letter – and his not guilty plea was accepted.
He sobbed and hung his head throughout the hearing and was told to register as a sex offender indefinitely, banning him from ever working with children again.
He was also handed a ten-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order, forbidding him from unsupervised physical or internet contact with girls aged under 16.
Detective Constable Andy Fox, of Bristol-based sex crime unit Operation Bluestone, said: “The sentence handed to John Davies today highlights the serious nature of his crimes and the abuse of his position of trust.
“In the most calculating fashion John Davies made every opportunity to spend time alone with his victim to abuse her.
“The conviction has been achieved thanks to the tremendous courage of his victim.
“She came forward to tell us what had happened to her. This is never easy and her disclosure means others will not come to harm.
“I hope the sentence passed today sends a strong message to victims of sexual abuse – we will listen, fully investigate and provide you with the help and support needed.”