Victim of sex offender teacher says he ‘completely destroyed me’
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The victim of a predatory sex offender has spoken of the impact his crimes has had on her life and how she “lost her innocence” due to him.
Derby Crown Court heard how Derbyshire school teacher Ian Featherstone targeted his teenage victim, one of his pupils, grooming her through messages and use of a social media account before their relationship turned physical, including the pair having sex.
The father-of-two, from Pulford Drive in Leicestershire, was working at Abbotsholme School in Ashbourne at the time of the attacks and began exchanging messages with the female pupil, messages that turned to sexualised chat with the pair sending each other intimate photographs.
“I didn’t realise what was happening, what he was doing, until someone told me that what he did was not normal.” Featherstone’s victim said in a victim impact statement. “At the time it felt right, but also wrong.
“It felt right because I finally thought I had found someone who ‘wanted’ me. However, this never explained why I felt on edge and scared around him. I tried ignoring the sexual comments he made, but he always said more. This increased my fear, and I was always questioning if I could trust him. However, I did trust him, and that cost me everything.”
Featherstone told the girl not to save his contact details, instead she had them on a piece of paper she kept with her phone, so his wife of 14 years didn’t find out about the relationship. He also would communicate with her via a social media platform, again to avoid detection.
The 44-year-old admitted two counts of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust at Derby Crown Court on Monday 16 January, however, the impact on his victim has been even greater: “I lost my innocence. I never understood this concept until he did what he did. I have had to grieve that I have lost what it meant to be a teenager.
“I have had to leave school behind as the weight of pain was too heavy for me to carry on anyone. I was always crying, breaking down and having to get picked up everyday from school. He pushed my mental health to the limits. This completely destroyed me.
“I self-harmed to cope and even wrote suicide notes. I didn’t want to carry on anymore. The guilt, pain, sadness, and the constant abuse became too much.”
Addressing Featherstone directly, she continued, via her victim impact statement: “No amount of tears could explain the pain. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my confidence, and my own voice.
“You have no idea how worthless you made me feel. Always being too scared to say no, or not to do as you wanted. This always scared me. I knew in the end you would always have your way, no matter if I said no. This lives with me, it will never leave.”
Featherstone was handed a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, a six-month electronically monitored curfew confining him to his home address between 7pm and 5am. He was also told to attend a 45-day sex offender awareness programme and to attend 55 rehabilitation session with the probation service. He must also carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and was placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.
Detective Constable Sarah Parkin said: “Mitigation in court tried to explain away Featherstone’s offending, and even tried to paint him as the victim, but he is clearly a sexual predator who preyed on someone who should have been safe in his care.”
“I would like to commend the bravery of the victim in coming forward and reporting this matter to the police.
“Anyone who is reading this and may have been the victim of sexual assault or abuse, please do speak to someone. There is help available. If you do feel able to contact the police we will always listen, investigate, and support you through the process.”