Former teaching assistant jailed for sexual offence
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A 23-year-old woman has been sentenced to six years imprisonment after being found guilty of having sexual activity with a 14-year-old boy.
Hannah Harris, from Henlow in Bedfordshire, was working as a teaching assistant at a school in Hertfordshire when she met the victim.
She began an inappropriate relationship with him over the course of several months.
Harris pretended to be the mother of a fellow pupil in order to see the victim, making contact with his parents under the guise of her ‘daughter’ meeting up with their son, as a means of arranging dates and pick up points.
After suspicions were raised, the victim informed his parents of what was going on and they then made contact with the school. Harris was suspended and a criminal investigation was launched.
Harris was arrested on 24 January 2020 and later released on police bail with strict conditions. She was subsequently charged with two counts of sexual activity with a child aged under 16, and one count of possession of a Category C indecent image.
She was convicted at St Albans Crown Court on Monday 7 February 2022 of one count of sexual activity with a child aged under 16, ahead of sentencing at St Albans Crown Court today (Wednesday 9 March), where she was sentenced to six years in prison.
She will also be a registered sex offender indefinitely.
Detective Constable Liam Hanrahan, who led the investigation, said: “This has been a long and extensive investigation, with Harris initially being arrested back in early 2020. Harris initiated a sexual relationship with the pupil, who was 14 years old at the time, which continued for several months.
“When suspicions were raised, she continued to fabricate stories and manipulate the victim into lying about the circumstances of what was going on. She employed several tactics in her attempt to hide the relationship, including using aliases on her phone to contact both the victim and his parents.
“She pretended to be the parent of a fictional child in the victim’s year group, manipulating his unknowing parents into facilitating her inappropriate meetings with the victim. Her behaviour was entirely inappropriate, and clearly breached the position of trust and responsibility she held as a teaching assistant at the time. She clearly would have known his age and knew that she was committing a criminal offence.
“I hope she uses her time in prison to reflect on her behaviour, and the impact that it will undoubtedly have on her victim. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who believes they may have been a victim of any form of sexual abuse to report it to police. Please be assured that we will always treat you with the utmost sensitivity and respect.”
Anyone in Hertfordshire who has experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence can contact the Herts Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for practical and emotional support.
The centre can arrange face-to-face support, sexual health referrals, and provide forensic medical examinations for those who want them. This service is open to everyone – men, women and young people, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.