Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Panel Concludes: Teacher Caught with Child Porn Can Work with Kids

A ruling by a government panel in the UK allowing a known pedophile to return to work as a teacher has both stunned and outraged the public. Government officials promise a review of the panel’s findings.

Religious education teacher Geoffrey Bettley, 36, was suspended from his job at a school in Yorkshire, England, in December 2010 after more than 200 images of “child abuse” and “indecent photos” of children were found on his home computer,¬†child porn. Bettley got away with a warning, was listed as a sex offender for two years, and was barred from contact with children. He was fired from his job of ten years at St. Mary’s Catholic school in Menston, west Yorkshire, after a hearing by the school administration.

Now a government panel of the UK’s National College of Teaching and Leadership has reviewed the case and has come to the jaw-dropping conclusion that Bettley does not “represent a risk to children or young people.” Apparently they do not make sweeping decision lightly, they have a scale, called the SAP (Sentencing Advisory Panel) Scale, against which to measure offenders’ psychology. It is unclear if anyone on the panel has any qualifications to assess sex-offender psychology and the implications for future risk.

A summary of the most recent scale from the December 2012 edition of the Sentencing Council’s Sexual Offense Guidelines is shown at left.

A review of Bettely’s photos, the number of which was not considered alarming by the panel, convinced them that he posed little risk to children, becasue his offenses were, “not at the most serious end” of the scale:

  • 143 of the photos were at level one, erotic posing without sexual activity.
  • 46 were at level three, non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children, but the panel claims that those images were unopened.

Bettley admitted to his crimes, was told that downloading child porn is wrong, and confirmed that he understood.

Then it gets weird.

The panel determined that Bettely’s pedophilia did not indicate a “deep-seated attitude which leads to harmful behavior.” So, they don’t think he is addicted to child porn, and would never hurt a kid?

They said he is okay around children both at home and in the workplace, even though he was “guilty of conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute,” and had him removed from the sex-offender list as well as from the barred-contact list.

Neither the public nor the press agrees with the panel’s findings. In fact a great many people are outraged. All the bad publicity and media scrutiny have prompted the government to review the panel’s decision.

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