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Thursday, 8 June, 2000, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Head teacher admits indecent assault
Peverett: 'glittering career in tatters'
A former headteacher has admitted assaulting children at the prep school he ran.

Robin Peverett, 66, was given an 18-month suspended sentence after admitting nine counts of indecent assault on pupils aged 10 to 13 at Dulwich College Preparatory School, Kent, between 1969 and 1978.

His past came to light after he gave a television interview about ex-pupil Sophie Rhys-Jones.

The former Ofsted inspector had been charged at Maidstone Crown Court with 16 counts of assault on nine girls and two boys going back 35 years. The judge ordered the other seven charges to remain on file.

The offences themselves are serious and exacerbated by the fact you were in a position of trust

Judge David Griffiths

It was stressed in court that Sophie Rhys-Jones, who became the Countess of Wessex after marrying Prince Edward last year, was not connected with the charges.

The allegations were made after one of Peverett's victims, a woman now aged 33, saw the interview and decided to tell police what had happened to her.

Peverett, from Battle, East Sussex, was awarded an OBE for services to education in 1995 and advised the government on education policy during the 1980s.

Prosecutor Brendan Finucane said the charges related to punishments he gave pupils during Latin lessons, fencing practice, drama productions and a narrowboat trip on the Norfolk Broads.

The former head was interviewed about the royal wedding because the Countess of Wessex was a pupil at his school until 1976.

Charges denied

Peverett initially denied the charges. His defence said too many years had passed since the allegations for a trial to be fair.

But on Thursday Judge David Griffiths ruled the trial would go ahead and the former head teacher changed his pleas.

Mr Finucane said it was not until the school chaplain questioned his actions in 1978, after complaints from parents, that Peverett considered what he was doing.

He was then prominent in abolishing corporal punishment at the school and in forging a new culture in education policy. He remained at the school until he retired in 1990.

Geoffrey Cox, defending, said his client's glittering career was in tatters.


"It is a tragedy that a man of this distinction should endure the shame that will be attached to these allegations. His reputation is permanently damaged.

"He would like to apologise to those pupils he affected," he added.

Judge Griffiths said: "The offences themselves are serious and exacerbated by the fact you were in a position of trust. Only a custodial sentence can be justified."

But it was significant that the last of the offences was committed in 1978, when corporal punishment was an accepted feature of school life.

And despite media attention surrounding his arrest last year no further complainants had come forward.

"I find the considerable delay in the case, combined with the fact that since 1980 you have applied yourself to the problem within the industry, can be seen as exceptional circumstances," he said.

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