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Schoolteacher banned from profession for life

Former Cheam master who downloaded indecent images served with prohibition order

Charlotte Booth

Charlotte Booth

charlotte.booth@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886637

Schoolteacher banned from profession for life

A FORMER Cheam School teacher who was convicted of making indecent images of children has been banned from his profession for life after a recent hearing.

Michael Denton, 60, was initially arrested in July 2014 for downloading a film called Wrestling Teens.

His computer equipment was seized and police discovered 163 images of children, specifically of boys ranging from between eight and 17 years old.

These included photographs of naked children.

In July 2015, he admitted making indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children between 2009 and 2010.

He was given a community order and told to take part in a sex offenders programme. 

At a Professional Conduct Panel meeting of the National College for Teaching and Leadership, on November 16 and 17, Mr Denton was served with a prohibition order, which prevents him from teaching in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England, indefinitely. 

In the panel’s report, it explained how Mr Denton claimed had been researching naturism.

It added: “He stated that he had downloaded the images from the same website, but had been unaware of their content as they were contained within zip files.”

The panel, however, dismissed this explanation as he had downloaded the images over several months during 2009 and 2010 – and came to the conclusion that his explanation could perhaps only explain a single visit. 

Mr Denton also presented the argument that he believed the children within the images were Eastern European, where attitudes to nudity were more relaxed than in England and Wales.

He added that public attitude to child nudity in photographs had narrowed in recent years – for example a parent taking a photo of their naked child on a beach or in a bath is now at greater risk of complaint than in the past.

However, the panel said: “There was a lack of remorse on his behalf and noted within his statement, no apology had been offered in any respect, nor a suggestion as to his appreciation of the damage that such images cause.

“These were not photographs of children on a beach taken by a parent and, in the panel’s view, would not have derived from genuine research into naturism.”

They added that they were “disappointed by the lack of remorse shown”. 

The decision-maker on behalf of the Secretary of State, Dawn Dandy, said: “Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against him, I have decided that Mr Denton shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.”

Mr Denton was employed at Cheam School between 1985 and 2014. 

He resigned his post following his arrest.

At the time he held the position of head of ICT, as well as teaching religious education and mathematics. 

In addition to the proven charges upon which Mr Denton was convicted, the panel also found he was in breach of “the standard that teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour”.

The panel added: “While Mr Denton’s convictions did not take place in the school, they involved the making of indecent photographs of children on a number of occasions over a period of months.

“Mr Denton’s behaviour in committing the offence could affect the public confidence in the teaching profession, given the influence that teachers may have on pupils, parents and others in the community.

“The individual’s actions were relevant to teaching, working with children and working in an education setting.

“A prohibition order would therefore prevent such a risk from being present.” 

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