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Former Teacher at a Now-Closed Devon School Jailed For Child Sex Abuse

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In August 2007 a former boarding school teacher was jailed for 10 years and nine months after being convicted of 13 sexual offences against children.

Paul Couch, 61, of Wyndham Street West, Plymouth, was found guilty earlier in August of two counts of serious sexual assault and 11 of indecent assault.

Couch, a former monk, had denied the charges at Exeter Crown Court.

The offences, involving boys between eight and 13, took place between 1972 and 1993 at a now-closed Devon school.

Judge Paul Darlow said Couch had committed a "gross breach of trust" and that the boys at the boarding school needed care and protection from the staff.

"You were in fact a predator, a sexual predator in that community-orientated monastic school," he said.

"You knew in what particular regard you would be held as a priest.

"During the course of this trial you sought to portray these boys as liars.

"These were not liars, fantasists, people mistaken or wrong, they were telling the truth."
In mitigation, defending barrister Nicholas Gerasimides said the offences were not violent and that Couch posed a minimal risk of reoffending.

"These convictions have completely ended his life," he said.

Couch, who the court heard was in a powerful position of trust, taught religious studies and English and was also involved in sport and extracurricular activities.
One boy did complain to the school authorities in 1987, but after an internal inquiry Couch stayed in his post.
The police became involved in 2004 when a former pupil on remand in prison told a prison chaplain a member of staff at the school sexually abused him.

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