Scots teacher accused of sexual act with pupil, 17

Bernadette Smith: Accused of engaging in sexual activity with 17-year-old male pupil. Picture: Comp
Bernadette Smith: Accused of engaging in sexual activity with 17-year-old male pupil. Picture: Comp
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A MARRIED teacher appeared in court on Monday accused of engaging in sexual activity with one of her teenage male pupils.

Former history teacher Bernadette Smith, 35, from Denny, near Falkirk, is alleged to have kissed the 17-year-old boy and lain beside him on a bed while partially clothed.

Appearing at Stirling Sheriff Court, Smith pleaded not guilty. Her solicitor said she would challenge the part of the charge that said she was the boy’s teacher, and therefore in a position of trust.

Smith is understood to have been suspended from her teaching job at Bannockburn High School on Friday after allegations emerged she had been involved in a relationship with the pupil.

It is understood that the pupil’s parents had met with the headteacher of the school the previous day.

The teacher was held in custody over the weekend in connection with the allegations, part of which allege that she and the pupil engaged in sexual activity in a public park.

Smith pled not guilty to a single charge that, while in a position of trust as the boy’s teacher, she engaged in sexual activity with the pupil, kissed him on the mouth and neck and lay beside him on a bed while partially clothed.

The offence was alleged to have been committed between 13 and 20 September at an address in Cowie, near Stirling, and at Callander Park, Falkirk.

Smith’s solicitor, Harry Coughlan, said: “I appear on behalf of Bernadette Smith. The special capacity is challenged and thereafter she pleads not guilty and seeks bail.”

Smith was freed on bail and is due to return to court in December for a pre-trial hearing.

Procurator-fiscal depute Alison Montgomery did not oppose bail, but said the Crown sought an additional condition that Smith does not approach or contact, or attempt to approach or contact, the boy involved.

She also said that prosecutors would be seeking an order that Smith takes part in an identification parade.

The teacher, who spent several hours in a cell before her case was heard on Monday, spoke only to confirm her name.

Mr Coughlan said that she would be challenging the part of the charge which says that she was the boy’s teacher and in a position of trust.

Sheriff Mark Thorley told Smith: “You have pled not guilty and you will be given two dates when you need to return, bail has been granted, but with special conditions.”

Smith will appear next for a pre-trial hearing in December, before summary trial before a sheriff sitting alone, without a jury, in January.

While it is against the law for anyone to have sex with a person below the age of 16 in Scotland, teachers and others in “positions of trust” have a responsibility under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 not to engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age

of 18.