Authorities stand by ban on schoolgirl victim contacting jailed former teacher Jeremy Forrest (From The Argus)
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Authorities stand by ban on schoolgirl victim contacting jailed former teacher Jeremy Forrest
A petition has been set up arguing for a convicted paedophile to be able see his victim.
It centres on jailed former Bishop Bell teacher Jeremy Forrest, who ran off to France with a schoolgirl.
He is currently serving a five-and-a-half year jail term after being found guilty at Lewes Crown Court of abduction and admitting five counts of sexual activity with a child.
East Sussex County Council imposed a ban on his victim, who was 15 at the time, seeing the Eastbourne maths teacher in jail.
In an interview with a tabloid newspaper the girl – now 16, who cannot be named for legal reasons – said she still loved Forrest and wanted to marry him.
The petition on website change.org, set up by Catherine Reifen, claims the schoolgirl should be allowed to contact him as she is “legally entitled to make decisions about her relationships”.
It also claims the victim had “consistently said her relationship with Forrest was wholly consensual, that their feelings were entirely mutual and that he never made her uncomfortable or pressured her into anything she didn’t want to do”.
Mrs Reifen’s Facebook page reveals she is a fan of Forrest’s musical alter-ego Jeremy Ayre as well as the page “We support Jeremy Forrest”.
The petition currently has just 50 signatures, with several messages of support from people in Liverpool, New Orleans and France.
The local authority said the ban was a “safeguarding” measure and was under regular review.
Acounty council spokesman said: “It’s important to reiterate that Jeremy Forrest is a convicted sex offender and as such it’s entirely appropriate any contact between him and his victim is controlled and closely monitored.
“Jeremy Forrest’s victim is currently prevented from seeing him. This is a decision taken in accordance with strict safeguarding procedures, which will be kept under review by the agencies responsible for ensuring her safety and wellbeing.”
Claude Knights, from charity Kidscape, said: “It seems reasonable to remind people that this schoolgirl was subjected to very difficult situations at an age when she was not able to give informed consent.
“The decision to ban any contact between Mr Forrest and this young person will allow her to take stock of all that she has been through and give her the time to make rational, mature decisions with the support of counsellors and social services.”
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