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Abuse lawyer welcomes sentence for former sports coach at elite school

A former sports coach at Christ's Hospital School, West Sussex, was sentenced yesterday for ten years following his conviction for nine counts of indecent assaults against female pupils.

Posted on 10 August 2018

Between 1985 to 1993, Ajaz Karim, used his position of authority to sexually abuse young students at the elite private school. During the criminal trial, the court heard that he carried out the assaults under the guise of performing ‘breathing techniques’ and one-to-one massages on pupils.  
A number of pupils made disclosures to staff about Karim’s inappropriate behaviour in the early 1990s. The extent to which these complaints were investigated and acted upon by Christ’s Hospital School is unclear. One former pupil told the court that when she disclosed Karim’s actions to her housemaster, it was implied that she may be identified in the press if she proceeded with her complaint.
Karim, 63, was later dismissed following a disciplinary warning from the headmaster. He went on to work at other prestigious institutions such as Eton College, Queen’s Club and the Hurlingham Club.
When Karim was convicted, Christ’s Hospital School’s current head teacher stated that the school’s safeguarding has since been improved and that any allegations arising now would be dealt with in a very different way.
Andrew Lord, solicitor in the Abuse Team at Leigh Day said: “The successful prosecution of former sports coach Ajaz Karim demonstrates that it is possible to bring perpetrators to justice years after the abuse occurred.
“Disclosing sexual abuse can often a hugely distressing process, and so it is extremely important that survivors of sexual abuse are made aware that they are entitled to lifelong anonymity when they come forwards with a complaint. The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 ensures that their identities cannot be published when making allegations. 
“I would urge Christ’s Hospital School to fully investigate why it appears that concerns about Karim’s behaviour may not have been acted upon in the past, and in particular whether any pupils were discouraged from pursuing their complaints.”
Despite a greater awareness of the risk of child sexual abuse in schools and sports clubs, there is still no legal duty upon staff members to report suspicions of abuse to the authorities . Campaigners and lawyers for abuse victims have long been calling for the introduction of a mandatory reporting law that would make it illegal for teachers, social workers and other relevant professionals not to report abuse.