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Studying Fifty Shades of Grey was for educational purposes

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The 50 Shades of Grey trilogy stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. PICTURE: Instagram

Teacher Thomas Stirling claimed he was studying the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey with a 17 year old female pupil purely for educational purposes.

The creative writing college teacher analysed the grammar and content in the E L James mommy porn bestseller to compare it with a literary work on the opposite end of the scale, such as William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a court heard. But outside the classroom, Stirling, 24, also sent highly sexually charged messages to the teenage girl.

He was reported to the college authorities when his 18 year old girlfriend discovered the intimate and sexually explicit messages Stirling had been sending the pupil on social media site Instagram. The girlfriend had already ended their relationship after finding compromising pictures on his mobile phone and believed he was being unfaithful, Grimsby Crown Court was told.

Stirling was suspended and eventually sacked from his teaching job at Franklin College in Grimsby. He admitted a charge of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity while he was in a position of authority over a two-month period in 2015.

Jeremy Evans, prosecuting, said Stirling was responsible for a significant breach of trust. There was an element of fantasy about the inappropriate messages and they included references to her virginity and sexual acts, the court was told.

Patricia Doherty, defending, said there was no physical relationship between the teacher and pupil, who was just weeks away from her 18th birthday. ‘Had these messages started later, then he would note in the dock and his life would not have been ruined, as it has been,’ she said. ‘She felt that there was nothing of a sexual relationship between them anyway. There has not been physical contact. It did not actually take place.’

Mrs Doherty said the two had been working on the book Fifty Shades of Grey. ‘They were looking at the grammar and content of that sort of book, which was the opposite of something like Macbeth,’ she said. Stirling has no previous convictions and accepted he should not have befriended the girl.

‘He had some problems of his own in the past and foolishly and naively thought that he could help her,’ Mrs Doherty said. ‘He realises all those years in education are wasted. He realises that what he did was incredibly foolish.’ Stirling, of Bakewell, Derbyshire, has since worked as a hotel receptionist and is looking for work in sales.

Recorder Eric Elliott QC said the girl was having ‘personal and domestic problems’ and looked to Stirling to ‘help her’. Commenting on the sexual messages, he told the defendant: ‘You knew full well, bearing in mind you were a teacher in a position of trust, that you ought not to go down that road.’ He said it was a significant breach of trust but noted that Stirling had cut off all contact with the girl and moved away from the area.

Stirling avoided a jail sentence. He was given 15 days rehabilitation and must do a sex offenders treatment program. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for five years.

Franklin College is a sixth form college for students aged 16 and over and has more than 2,000 people taking courses there. An Ofsted inspection last October found it ‘required improvement’ in all five key areas assessed. However, it is said to be in the top 20 per cent of sixth form colleges nationally. It is not the first time Fifty Shades of Grey has been used as part of an education course. The American University in Washington DC reportedly used the bestseller to look at domestic violence and female sexuality issues.

© Daily Mail
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