Teacher must pay £50k to girl, 16, lured into ‘sexts’
A VULNERABLE teenage girl groomed by her deputy headmaster has become the first victim of ‘sexting’ to be awarded damages in a landmark legal judgment.
The 16-year-old pupil, who cannot be named, was pressured into sending nude selfies to William Whillock during text exchanges in which he egged her on into sending increasingly explicit images.
She also suffered sexual abuse by him at The New School at West Heath in Sevenoaks, Kent – where Princess Diana was once a pupil.
Whillock, now 62, has been ordered to pay more than £50,000 compensation to his victim, who is now 23, in the first successful lawsuit of its type. The former vice-principal and child protection officer at the school, which now specialises in pupils with emotional and social difficulties, was found culpable for ‘emotional manipulation’ of the girl, who had a history of severe epilepsy.
The ruling by a High Court judge in London opens the way for scores more compensation cases to be brought. Yesterday Whillock’s victim told the BBC: ‘He just used to ask me to send him pictures of me with like my underwear on or something like that.
‘That’s how it started, and then it just got worse and worse because then he said, “Yeah, can you send me a picture of you... naked”.
‘It took a few goes to get used to it at first because I didn’t want to do it, but when I used to see him after at school he used to like get closer and closer to me. He would say, “Can you send me another one, that was lovely”.’
She said the abuse had shattered her selfesteem, adding: ‘Whenever I have a relationship it is always stuck in my head – I feel like they are going to abuse me again.’
Whillock was arrested and suspended in early 2010 after a colleague discovered the explicit photos of the girl and intimate text messages on his phone.
A three-year community order was imposed at Maidstone Crown Court after he admitted possessing indecent images of the pupil.
In the separate civil case, the High Court heard that Whillock masqueraded as a father figure towards the girl. But he was a risk-taker and in his flat on the school campus kept a stash of hardcore pornography and images of himself at orgies.
Judge Sir Robert Nelson said the effect of the case on the victim had been ‘dire’ and ordered her to be paid a total of £51,370.
This included compensation for ‘handicap on the labour market’ and resultant psychological treatment. He said the compensation owed for the sexting alone was £25,000.
The judge also concluded that Whillock had engaged in ‘sexual touching, fondling’ and another sex act with the girl.
But he did not find allegations of rape or other sex offences proven.
Sir Robert said: ‘In addition, photograph albums were discovered which contained
‘He asked for pictures in underwear, then naked’
hundreds of Polaroid images of Mr Whillock performing a variety of different sexual acts... a selection of these photographs was taken to the headmistress to see if any of those involved could be identified as pupils, former pupils or members of staff. None were.’
Whillock claimed the porn had been confiscated from students, and photos of himself were a ‘memento’ from a relationship.
The school, which was a co-defendant to the litigation, had attempted to settle before the case began with an offer of around £20,000. It now must pay the victim the full compensation and try to claw back the money from Whillock.
David McClenaghan, a lawyer at Bolt Burdon Kemp which represented the victim, said he hoped the ground-breaking decision – the first in which compensation has been awarded for abuse that did not involve physical contact – would act as a deterrent to potential abusers.
An NSPCC spokesman said: ‘It’s vital that there are serious punishments that deter offenders from committing these crimes against young people.’
The school did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. In the 1970s – when it was an independent girls’ school known as West Heath – the then Lady Diana Spencer was a boarder, as was the actress Tilda Swinton.
Depraved: William Whillock