A former sports coach at an independent school near Horsham has been jailed for 10 years for a series of historic sexual offences against girls who were pupils there.
Ajaz Karim, 63, of Baron’s Court Road, London, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court today for nine counts of indecent assault and one of attempted indecent assault against six girls aged 14 to 18 at Christ’s Hospital School.
Police say he had been convicted in April, following a two-week trial at Hove Crown Court and was remanded in custody for sentencing.
He will be a registered sex offender for life and was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order to last until further court notice, severely restricting his access to young people.
The prosecution followed an investigation by detectives from the Sussex Police Complex Abuse Unit who arrested Karim in June 2016 after officers had received information for the first time earlier that year.
Detective Sergeant Karrie Bohanna said: “All the complainants were pupils of school age and some did not appreciate at the time of the touching, that it amounted to indecent assault, despite each of them stating that they felt extremely uncomfortable when the touching took place. It was clear that Karim used his position as a member of staff and his role as a sports teacher to use massage as a subterfuge for sexual touching.
“Karim said he practised an alternative therapy on pupils called the Bowen Technique and was teaching the students breathing exercises to help when playing sports and claimed there was nothing sexual involved but admitted he had no qualifications for the practice.
“He told the jury that his relationships with pupils was one of friendship only, but they clearly saw through his lies.
“We are glad that the six victims, who had the courage to come forward even after all this time, have now seen him face justice.”
Sussex Police say they have had full co-operation from management at the school throughout their investigation.
An NSPCC spokesperson said after today’s court hearing: “It is down to the courage of the victims in this case that Karim was bought before the courts and has now faced justice for his shocking breach of trust.
“It’s vital that survivors of child sexual abuse are listened to and we hope today’s sentencing provides some sort of closure for those cruelly targeted by Karim.
“Children should always feel safe and protected at school. And the NSPCC provides a monthly update for all teaching staff on developments in safeguarding.”
Gareth Morgan, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The CPS was able to build a strong case against Karim, using the evidence from his victims and the case put together by the police. Combined, they clearly demonstrated that he had been using his role as a sports teacher for a number of years as a way of indecently assaulting girls at the school.
“Karim had sought to explain his actions away by saying he was providing massages to his victims and this was legitimate contact through providing assistance with breathing techniques.
“However, the police found he had a history of visiting websites on his phone, which showed an interest in massage for sexual purposes, information we were able to present to the jury as part of our case. In convicting him, they rejected Karim’s innocent explanation of his actions.
“Karim was in a position of authority at the school and would have been trusted by the very pupils he then went on to abuse.”