A teacher accused of sex assaults on five boys at a Kirklees primary school told a jury today - Monday - that none of the offences alleged had happened.
Brendan O’Brien denied he had ever rubbed or touched the genital area or thigh of the boys over their clothing.
He told Leeds Crown Court he would move around the classroom and crouch by pupils when they were working if he wanted to see what they were doing.
“I don’t stand for a number of reasons,” he said. “One is I think it is quite imposing to have somebody standing over them. My back would go anyway if I was bending too much so I tend to crouch by the pupil looking at what they are writing.”
He said during the writing session in English classes the children in his class were discouraged from talking and he would not speak either.
“Do you ever physically contact the children in that context,” asked his defence counsel Kama Melly.
“Yes, I would have physical contact with the children if something is good and I am really impressed with a certain section or word I might give a thumbs up, a tap on the knee and a thumbs up or a tap on the shoulder so they know I have read it and have a response to it.”
He said if there was something wrong he might pull a face instead.
Miss Kelly added: “I am talking about touching above the knee. The allegations you know are touching the area up the leg and on the genitals. Have you ever touched children in that way?”
O’Brien replied: “No, I never touched children in that way.”
O’Brien, 45 of Barnsley Road, Barnsley, denies 17 charges of sexual assault and one of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
He said his arrest was a complete shock to him.
The first boy who had made a complaint against him had been involved in a problem at school when he had refused point blank to do a writing task.
He had phoned the boy’s mother to arrange a meeting at school to discuss the situation. When he told the boy that the youngster had said: “I hate you.”
O’Brien told the jury he raised that matter with the headteacher, unaware of the complaint made by the boy.
“Now I know why she was quite coy with me,” he said.
He said one of the boys had claimed he had undone his trouser zip. He said not only was his description of events implausible because it would have been seen by somebody, O’Brien added: “I know it hasn’t happened.”
Another boy had claimed he was touched on an occasion by O’Brien when the teacher sat next to him on a bus returning from a school trip.
Ian Howard, prosecuting, put it to O’Brien in cross-examination that while the other children on the trip were in high spirits he seized the opportunity to touch the boy.
O’Brien replied: “It is simply unimagineable that could happen. Obviously physically you could do it but on a bus full of children and teachers – well, it just makes it fairly implausible.”
The trial continues.