A religious studies high school teacher who had sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl walked away from court a free man after the judge claimed the teenage girl seduced him.
Stuart Kerner, 44, was described by his colleagues as a “happy family man,” proud and very educated. He was also a vice principal at Bexleyheath Academy in South East London, where he was considered “a great asset to the school.”
Somehow, even after taking a 16-year-old student’s virginity on school grounds and then taking her into his family home for an afternoon of more inappropriate behavior, Judge Joanna Greenberg is giving the married man the benefit of the doubt.
Kerner’s 18 month sentence was suspended by the judge on the grounds that the girl was “obsessed” and Kerner was “emotionally vulnerable.”
While delivering the verdict, Judge Greenberg said: “The jury was not prepared to accept the evidence of the victim not supported with other evidence. The jury did not treat her as a reliable witness. She had no compunction in telling lies.
“She pursued you. Her friends said she was stalking you. She hung around where she would be near you. She had been obsessed with you for a long time.
“There is no evidence you groomed her. If anything it was she who groomed you. You gave way to temptation at a time when you were emotionally vulnerable because of problems with your wife’s pregnancy.
“She was intelligent and used that intelligence to manipulate people emotionally. She was vulnerable and needy and had a troubled home life.
“The law demands you show restraint, but you did not do so. What sympathy I have for you gives way to the obligation an offence so serious crosses the custodial boundary. I am sentencing you to 18 months.
“I do not consider you present a risk to anyone. You were emotionally vulnerable. You had built up your career over 20 years and are of exemplary character.
“You are well respected by staff and colleagues. For these reasons I am suspending your sentence for 18 months.”
The court was told the first sexual encounter between Kerner and the girl happened on February 28, 2012, when she 16. Prosecuting attorney David Stephenson said that Kerner had shown the girl a condom a week before and told her that he was going to use it on her when she became too “irresistible.”
On the 28th, the girl saw Kerner walk into school with a blanket. They agreed to meet in a storeroom during fourth period, Stephenson said.
“She opened the door using a keypad. She grabbed and kissed him. There was a yoga mat on the floor. He put the blanket on the yoga mat and they lay down,” Stephenson added. “He asked what she wanted and she said ‘I want you to f*** me.’ She later told police, ‘It hurt but it was what I wanted at the time.’”
The prosecution said the next encounter occurred on October 3, 2012. Kerner had the day off.
“He asked what she was doing and (she) agreed to come to his house for the day,” the prosecution continued. “He picked her up at 9:30 am and took her to his house. They had sex three times. The rest of the day they spent talking and cuddling before he took her back at 3 pm.”
The prosecution added that the girl’s parents found “sexually explicit material” on her phone in January 2013. They notified the authorities.
Stephenson said that Kerner described the girl as a “pathological liar” and a “fantasist.” He also noted that there was a “degree of planning” on Kerner’s part because he brought a condom and blanket to school.
The jury of six women and six men found Kerner guilty on two counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust. They cleared him of four other charges and two counts of sexual activity with a child - activity which was said to have happened when the girl was 15.
Kerner held back tears as he learned his sentence was suspended while he wife, Katherine, cried and hugged friends as he left the courtroom.
The Attorney General’s office told MailOnline that they will review whether the sentence was too lenient following five complaints from the public. The school did not issue a comment on the matter and said that Kerner’s employment ended in October 2014.