A retired teacher has asked the High Court to quash the Teaching Council’s decision to refer to its disciplinary committee a “purported complaint” alleging he sexually exploited an underage teenager more than a decade ago.
The man, who cannot be identified due to court orders, says gardaí sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the matter and no prosecution was directed.
The man fully denies the allegations, which he says are “false and malicious”.
The claims arose out of a Garda vetting disclosure as part of the teacher’s professional registration renewal, he says.
A garda told the Teaching Council in 2021 that a man in his early 20s made an official complaint to gardaí in 2016 about the teacher regarding alleged events from more than a decade ago.
The man says the vetting disclosure stated that allegations were made to gardaí that he “engaged in sexual exploitation of a child aged of teenage years” on unknown dates over a two-year period.
The Teaching Council investigating committee found last October that there was a prima facie case of professional misconduct to warrant further action being taken on the complaint which, the man says, has never been verified.
The man alleges the investigating committee has attempted to contact the complainant but to no avail.
He claims the investigating committee cannot make a finding that there is a prima facie case on the basis of a second-hand account or summary of certain allegations that were made to gardaí, he claims.
He alleges the investigating committee’s referral last October was irrational and unreasonable. It failed to consider relevant matters and took account of irrelevant matters, he adds.
The investigating committee failed to apply the test it had proposed for finding there is a prima facie case- whether there was a real prospect of the complaint being proven as to fact, he claims.
He also alleges the investigating committee relies on the assumption that the disciplinary committee will be provided with the Garda file on the 2016 complaint.
The registered but retired teacher wants the court to direct the investigating committee of the Teaching Council to reconsider the “purported complaint” and to decide to refuse to refer it to the council’s disciplinary committee.
On Monday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan said he was satisfied there were arguable grounds in the case to grant leave while only the plaintiff was notified of the action.
Leave of the court permits the man to pursue judicial review of the decision. The case was adjourned to a date in May.
In a sworn statement, the man says the claims of “horrendous sexual offences” include making and distributing child sexual abuse imagery of the child.
He says he taught for decades without being the subject of any other allegations of wrongdoing.
The man says he immediately informed his employer of the 2016 Garda investigation.
He also alleges he fully cooperated with an investigation conducted by Tusla into the same allegations, which resulted in no action being taken against him.
He says he told his employer of that investigation and enjoyed the full support of the school, the principal of which told Tusla the school had “no child protection concerns about this teacher to date”.
“The existence of these disciplinary proceedings against me is a stain on my character and a burden on my life,” the man says, adding that he must spend significant resources in defending himself.