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Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal school teacher who indecently assaulted two male pupils 20 years ago has finally owned up, entering into a plea agreement with the State which allows him to avoid time in jail.
“That was a messed up period in my life and I just want to take responsibility for my actions,” Robin Radley, 52, told Pietermaritzburg Regional Court magistrate Corrie Greyling on day.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault.
In terms of the plea agreement, he was sentenced to four years imprisonment, wholly suspended for a period of five years on condition he was not convicted of a similar offence during that period.
But the fact that Radley is still a teacher at Richmond Primary School where the indecent assaults occurred in 1993 has angered his two victims, who told the Daily News their emotional scars had not healed.
One of them admitted that he was convicted, as an adult, of the sexual assault of two 12-year-old girls.
He was also a recovering alcoholic and could not hold down a steady job, he said.
Radley said in his plea that at the time of his crimes he had lived in the school’s hostel, situated on the same property.
He said back then he was a young and inexperienced teacher still finding his feet in the teaching profession.
According to his plea statement, Radley had found himself in a state of emotional turmoil because he was homosexual.
“At the time, society frowned upon such persons, hence I was unable to live my life openly as a gay person,” he said.
Being inexperienced as a teacher, Radley said he had failed to keep a proper distance between himself and some of the boys at the school.
During 1993, two 13-year-old boys approached Radley at the hostel at different times. He admitted to indecently assaulting them, by making them masturbate.
“I was later ashamed of what I had done and after that I learnt to keep my distance from the scholars and have refrained from acting in such a manner since.”
Radley said he was now an “openly gay” person involved in a long-term relationship until his partner died in 2010.
He has been a teacher for the past 26 years and has not been involved in any other misconduct, he said. “I am truly remorseful for what I have done.”
However, despite the passing of two decades, his two victims said they were still suffering.
They told the Daily News later that while they had some form of closure, they were angry that Radley was still teaching.
One of the victims, who lives in Johannesburg, said the incident had long-standing effects on his life.
“In 2009 I was convicted of the sexual assault of two 12-year-old girls. I received a three-year suspended sentence and had to attend court-ordered counselling sessions for more than four years,” he said.
He said his studies had also been affected due to his attacker being his teacher. “I am angry that he is still teaching and nothing has been done. He poses a danger to pupils,” he said.
He explained that he was also a recovering alcoholic who had cut off ties with his family because of feelings of guilt and shame.
“I have tried to suppress these feelings but they always resurface,” he said, adding that his inability to study had prevented him from pursuing any form of stable career.
“People in authority telling me what to do causes me to get aggressive or to leave the job.”
Radley’s second victim said the incident had caused him and his family extreme embarrassment.
“This has affected my ability to have relationships and has affected my self-confidence,” he said, adding that he had spent more than R10 000 on therapy.
“I still cannot bring myself to understand why this happened to me.”
He said he had decided to charge Radley after all these years on the advice of his therapist in an attempt to get closure. “I don’t think anyone can ever truly get closure though, after something like this.”
The school declined to comment and referred all queries to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education.
At the time of publication, the department had not responded to enquiries on what action, if any, would be taken against Radley now that he had been convicted.