A male teacher at a Helsinki school has appealed an 18-month suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of sexually abusing students in his charge. The appeal trial began in the Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
In December 2018, the 44-year-old mathematics teacher at a Swedish-language school in Helsinki was convicted and sentenced for the sexual abuse of nine children between 2013 and 2017. The court ruled that the teacher had sent messages with sexual images and texts to young boys and engaged in inappropriate physical contact with them.
The accused however denied having sexual intercourse with one of the students and claimed that the physical contact and massages were not sexual in nature.
The alleged abuser also denied sending pictures of his genitalia to a 15-year-old and claimed he was not aware that the student he was communicating with was under the age of 16.
Written warning in 2014
The court revealed that the teacher had received a written warning in 2014 for his improper conduct, however he continued to engage in inappropriate interaction with the students.
The teacher's ongoing improper conduct came to the school's attention in autumn 2016, and the institution filed a criminal complaint in early 2017.
The accused admitted to the district court that the descriptions of his behaviour were partially correct but argued that his actions did not meet the criteria for child sexual abuse.
Finland’s criminal code defines a child sexual abuser as someone who has interaction such as touching or engages in other sexual actions with a child under the age of 16. The acts must be damaging to the child’s development. A suspect may also be found guilty of the offence for causing a child to commit such acts.
The former headmaster of the school was also fined in February 2019 for not lawfully reporting the matter to the police, even though he was aware of the alleged sexual abuse. The verdict is not final yet and the court will hear the case against the principal early this year.