Highate Wood School School, Haringey
Jailed: Paedophile former teacher at Highgate Wood School who groomed pupil, 13, for sex on premises
A former assistant headteacher at Crouch End’s Highgate Wood School has been jailed for 12 years today after being unmasked as a paedophile who groomed one of his pupils for sex.
Andrew Adams, 69, could now die behind bars after admitting a string of sexual assaults – including sex acts with the young teenager in the school’s changing rooms and indecent assault during a school trip to a mosque.
The offences date back to the early 1980s when Adams was a PE teacher at the school, in Montenotte Road. The victim – aged between 13 and 15 at the time and “particularly vulnerable”, said prosecutor Jonathan Polnay – was “befriended” by Adams, Wood Green Crown Court heard.
“Adams gave him lifts home and [the victim] felt he was one of the few people he could trust and get on with,” said Mr Polnay.
An “imposing figure in the school,” Adams would talk to the pupil in his car after school, until one day he touched his leg and kissed him, the court heard.
“Putting it absolutely bluntly, you screwed up a young boy’s life. Your responsibility was to protect him. Instead, for your own sexual pleasure, you took advantage of him. It was a gross breach of trust.”
The lifts continued, until Adams drove the boy to a car park and had sex with him. “This became a regular pattern… the intercourse was taking place, at one point, every day. There may be 100 or more significant incidents that took place,” said Mr Polnay. “[The victim] said it was always very quick, with little affection afterwards. It took place in the sports hall, in the changing room, actually on school premises.”
On one occasion in the school’s communal baths, Adams fondled the boy’s genitals under the water in the presence of other pupils, the court heard.
Adams even took the boy aside and made him perform oral sex on him during a school trip to a mosque, and would also regularly take him back to his house for sex.
On one such occasion, the victim said the school’s deputy headteacher visited Adams unexpectedly. Adams ordered the boy to hide behind a door, but the deputy saw him in a mirror. “The deputy headmaster looked shocked but absolutely nothing was done,” said Mr Polnay. “[The victim] took the view that, after that, the deputy headmaster was even harsher on him than he was before.”
“He will be out in six years. He pays society eight per cent of his life for damage to 73 per cent of mine to date, not counting the further 20 years’ therapy.”
He added: “Suffice it to say that the offence has had an absolutely profound and lasting effect on every aspect of [the victim’s] life.”
In a lengthy victim impact statement, the former pupil, who is now a psychiatric inpatient, said he still feels “a deep, toxic shame and guilt” over the relationship and has considered taking his own life.
Judge Witold Pawlak quoted from the statement, in which he revealed Adams would embark on monologues fantasising about other boys he saw in the school showers.
He has spent years with “sadness, anxiety and depression, suffering alone and believing it all to be my fault,” the statement continued. “I was encouraged to lie to my family about my whereabouts and made up friends.” He said Adams had no care for his “welfare, education and family life”. Even now he fears being “found out” at work as being “stupid, unworthy and evil”.
Adams and the victim kept in touch until 2012, when the victim had a breakdown.
But Judge Pawlak said he wasn’t surprised at his continued relations with Adams: “It is a common phenomenon that the abused becomes dependent on the abuser,” he said.
Highly thought of while at Highgate Wood, Adams worked there until 2004, but helped out arranging work experience placements for pupils until 2010. He even has a wing at the school named after him.
He made no comment to police after his arrest, but admitted the charges at the first opportunity. The court also heard Adams had had a relationship with another teenager, a former pupil who had left the school and was over 16.
Judge Pawlak told him: “You befriended the victim and he took you into his confidence, and he took you as a friend… Putting it absolutely bluntly, you screwed up a young boy’s life. Your responsibility was to protect him. Instead, for your own sexual pleasure, you took advantage of him. It was a gross breach of trust. The impact of that sort of behaviour on a child is well-known.”
Adams, of Solna Road, Winchmore Hill, north London, admitted a multiple indictment count of indecent assault between two dates in 1980, a multiple indictment count of buggery during the 1980/1 school year, another multiple indictment count of buggery the following school year, and a count of indecent assault at a mosque on a date between 1980 and 1982.
Adams remained impassive in the dock as the judge sentenced him to six years consecutively for the buggery counts and three years each, concurrently, for the indecent assaults. He was given full credit for entering early guilty pleas, reducing his sentence by a third, and is likely to serve half the total 12-year sentence behind bars.
Talking exclusively to the Broadway this afternoon, the victim of Adams’ assaults said: “He will be out in six years. He pays society eight per cent of his life for damage to 73 per cent of mine to date, not counting the further 20 years’ therapy [to come] indicated by a specialist. It doesn’t seem much, but it is what it is.”
The school, which has removed the signs to the Adams Wing, sent pupils home today with a letter from head teacher Patrick Cozier, which said “everyone at Highgate Wood is shocked by this appalling case, and our thoughts are with the victim at this very difficult time”.
He continues: “It is of course distressing that a long-standing member of staff was able to so seriously abuse his position of trust, and we are offering support to any parents, students and staff affected by this case.”
He said Adams “has no ongoing link” with the school, and the Adams Wing “will now be referred to as the Admin Building”. He added that Adams “is in no way linked to any existing member of staff”.