HE was the respected assistant head of a Brighouse school.
But now Peter Merrick has gone on trial accused of a catalogue of sex abuse offences against former pupils.
Merrick, 66, faces a total of 22 charges relating to abuse allegedly committed by him while he worked at the William Henry Smith School near Brighouse in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The school is for youngsters with behavioural difficulties.
Merrick, who lives in Burton Road, Overseal, Derbyshire, has denied 20 charges of indecent assault on male persons and two allegations of buggery.
Prosecutor Matthew Bean told a jury at Bradford Crown Court yesterday that over a seven-year period Merrick had systematically abused four boys, aged between 11 and 15, in various locations at the school including the headteacher’s room, the shower area, the boot room and his own family’s living accommodation.
Merrick is also alleged to have abused one boy while they were on an orienteering trip and to have molested another youngster in his car.
“The prosecution say that over this period the defendant systematically sexually abused four boys at the school.The abuse included not only repeatedly indecently assaulting them but also offences of buggery and simulated intercourse.
“You will hear that the defendant became a member of staff at the William Henry Smith School in 1976 and in 1979 was promoted to become the assistant headteacher in charge of residential care.
“The reason the boys were sent to the school was to help them.
“The defendant, as a teacher at the school, knew that these were boys who needed care and support. As such the prosecution say the defendant was in a position of particular responsibility and trust and that he deliberately abused that position by committing these offences.”
One of the alleged victims told the court Merrick started sexually abusing him about a year after he was sent to the school and said it was a “nightmare’’.
The jury were shown a DVD recording of the sometimes tearful complainant’s police interview in which he gave graphic details of the offences allegedly committed against him.
“It was just a nightmare,’’ said the complainant.