A group which campaigns for victims of child abuse have attacked a Scottish sheriff’s decision to give a teacher guilty of indecent exposure an absolute discharge.
Helen Holland of the In Care Abuse Survivors Scotland (INCAS) said it was “disgusting” that Gordon Cruden was not adequately punished for the offences at the elite Merchiston Castle school in Edinburgh.
Sheriff Kevin Drummond – usually known by his initials TAK Drummond – opted for an absolute discharge in December after finding Cruden guilty of three counts of indecent exposure in the 1980s.
The disposal means the 62 year old French teacher was not convicted of the offences, or placed on the sex offenders register, and so he continues to teach at another private school south of the border.
Holland, who is the INCAS chairperson, said the wrong decision had been made: “I think this decision is absolutely disgusting. It beggars belief.
“If it was my children who were at this school in England, I would be deeply concerned. This was a teacher who was in a position of trust and authority.”
INCAS is a self-help group of volunteers who help survivors of abuse meet and discuss their experiences.
Holland believes only members of the judiciary with detailed knowledge of abuse issues should hear these cases: “I think there should be specialist judges for this sort of offence.”
Graeme Pearson, the Scottish Labour justice spokesperson who was also a former senior police officer and Director General of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, also expressed surprised at the outcome.
“Having dealt with survivors over the last five years at the Scottish Parliament, an absolute discharge in this case sends out the wrong message and is a curious outcome,” he said.
“It’s also unhelpful that this individual can continue teaching in such circumstances. Parents will not be happy.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Of course the courts had the full possession of the facts when deciding on this verdict. But the experience will have been deeply damaging to the victims, and it will no doubt be of concern to them that he is still teaching.
“The public will also be keen to know the new school is fully aware of the details of this case.”