More charges laid: Female staffer faces new child sex allegations

DETECTIVES have laid fresh child sex offences against a New England school staff member, but the woman will fight the charges when the case heads to trial.

The 23-year-old, who is being held in custody in Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre, appeared via video link in Armidale Local Court yesterday morning, where four fresh charges of having sexual intercourse with a child under special care were laid.

The fresh charges were triggered after more alleged victims came forward earlier this year.

The woman, whose identity is suppressed by order of the court, was employed at a New England school last year when she was suspended in September, after an investigation was launched into claims of inappropriate behaviour by a staff member at the school.

Now, detectives allege the woman had sexual intercourse with four boys under the age of 18, three of whom were allegedly under  her care, and one who was allegedly under the age of 16.

According to court documents, the offences allegedly occurred between October 2014 and September 2015.

The name, location and type of school has been suppressed by the court with an extensive non-publication order placed on much of the details surrounding the case, to protect the alleged victims, who were students at the school at the time of the alleged offending.

The woman was not employed as a teacher, but was a member of staff, before she was arrested and charged by New England detectives, last year.

During the committal yesterday, a solicitor for the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew a charge of persistent child sex abuse – an offence that carries a maximum of life imprisonment.

“The crown seeks committal on all other charges one through to 12 in the district court,” the DPP solicitor said.

Agent solicitor Clive Sharkey tendered a signed waiver of committal, electing to head straight to the district court for trial.

A trial date will now be selected during a brief mention of the case in Sydney in June.

“It’s more than four weeks away, but that’s been requested by the instructing solicitor,” the DPP solicitor told the court.

Magistrate Michael Holmes committed the accused for trial to the district court and confirmed the extensive non-publication orders surrounding the details of the case.

“Bail is not applied for and bail is refused,” he told the woman.

“Thank you your majesty,” the accused replied.

Two bull-ring folders of evidence, including thousands of text messages which were recovered from the accused’s phone, were tendered to the court, along with electronic material on two CDs, as well as the facts alleged by the Crown.