A school teacher had simultaneous relationships with two teenage girls after he had “groomed” them for sex, a court heard on Tuesday.
Ben Breakwell, 40, is accused of arranging illicit sexual encounters with the two girls, starting when they were aged 13 and 14.
Breakwell, a former teacher at a London school, allegedly professed his love to the girls, and arranged meetings for sex in a secluded basement area, a toilet cubicle, and his flat, it is said.
Breakwell is also accused of sexually assaulting another girl, aged 16, by kissing her on the lips, and having indecent images of a fourth girl, taken when she was 16 and 17-years-old, on his computer.
Prosecutor Catherine Farrelly told jurors Breakwell was in his mid-30s when he allegedly preyed on the girls.
She said Breakwell is accused of “targeting, grooming and then sexually exploiting” the girls, but he denies engaging in any illegal sexual relationships.
Ms Farrelly said a “hallmark” of Breakwell’s alleged grooming was to “make his first move and then follow it up with a message to say that it was completely unexpected, but he’d liked it”.
“He was essentially trying to protect himself by making out like what he had done was a spur-of-the-moment accident whilst simultaneously testing the water to see how the girls would react to it”, she said.
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Ms Farrelly said Breakwell asked the 14-year-old girl to come into his flat to check if it smelt of cigarettes as his mother was coming to visit.
“She agreed and spent ten minutes or so inside. Before she left, the defendant gave her a hug”, she said.
“From this point, the two of them would regularly text each other and (she) began to visit the defendant’s flat on regular occasions.
“The prosecution says that this seemingly innocent event was an important step in the defendant’s grooming campaign... (it was) what appeared to be entirely innocent circumstances but he had used that incident as an opportunity to hug (her), thus blurring the lines of acceptable physical contact.”
It is said he first kissed the girl as they sat together on a sofa, before he “embarked on an illegal and wholly inappropriate sexual relationship”.
Jurors heard they used WhatsApp messages to arrange to meet in the basement for sex, and Breakwell allegedly proposed that they have a “threesome”.
Ms Farrelly said Breakwell denies having a relationship with the girl and “says that her account is essentially a series of lies”.
Jurors heard the girl who accuses Breakwell of sexual assault says he asked her for a kiss and she agreed, assuming he meant a kiss on the cheek.
She was left “shaken and confused” when he then kissed her on the lips, it is said.
The court heard Breakwell denies kissing the girl, insisting it was just an awkward hug.
Breakwell was arrested after friends of the 13-year-old girl reported their concerns about their relationship.
The prosecutor said the 13-year-old girl spoke to police after realising Breakwell was having sexual relations with another girl, and realised she “hadn’t been special to him”, the court heard.
Breakwell, who now lives in Monkgate, York, denies 22 charges of sexual activity with a child, three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, four charges of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust, a count of sexual assault, and two allegations of taking indecent photographs of a child.
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The trial continues.