Court hears of teacher's classroom 'sex assault'

A WOMAN who alleges she was sexually assaulted by her teacher in a classroom with other pupils told a court it made her feel “frightened and alone”.

The woman, now an adult, was a pupil at a Newport primary school when Mario Morelli, now 77, of Keynsham Avenue, allegedly touched her intimately over her skirt as she read aloud.

Morelli denies eight charges of indecent assault dating back to the late 1980s.

Two complainants gave evidence yesterday at Cardiff Crown Court. The second alleged victim said Morelli would sit next to her on the bus and indecently touch her after putting his briefcase over her lap so he could not be seen.

The first complainant said Morelli would ask her to stand by his desk and read aloud, and as she did so he would move his hand over her skirt in a position where what he did could not be seen by other pupils.

She told a jury: “I felt awful. I didn’t know what to do. I was feeling frightened, alone. I had a close relationship with my mum and dad but for whatever reason I didn’t feel I could go to them. I felt really alone.”

When asked by Judge Stephen Hopkins why she went to police now and not nearer the time of the allegations, she said: “I need closure. I need to be able to put this to bed once and for all and move on with my life. I feel he’s had enough of my life and I need to reclaim it now.”

A second complainant gave evidence from behind a screen, telling the court Morelli had on occasion caught the same bus as her to school. When she sat down he would come and sit next to her, she said, and begin to touch her over her school dress while obscuring what he was doing with his briefcase on around 10 to 15 occasions.

When asked whether any touch was accidental, she said: “It was deliberate.”

She said this made her feel “terrified” and that she would try to avoid getting on the bus or going to school.

Asked in cross examination whether she could have told other passengers she did not want Morelli to sit next to her, she said: “As a young girl who wasn’t sure of what was happening to her then no, I don’t accept that. I don’t think you think like that as a child.”

Proceeding.

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