Teacher’s note to herself about 15-year-old student led straight to grooming charge

A female teacher’s message sent to herself about a 15-year-old male student will now likely be examined by a jury for any intent to groom a child for sexual abuse.

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Chelsea Jane Edwards, 28, faced Brisbane Magistrates Court on Tuesday and was committed to stand trial on two charges of facilitating the procurement of a child to engage in a sexual act as a carer.

Magistrate Ross Mack dismissed a single charge of indecently filming a child against Edwards as police did not have evidence as to when a photo of alleged indecency with a child was taken.

Edwards, of Paradise Point on the Gold Coast, was working as a teacher at Indooroopilly State High School when the alleged offences took place.

Crown prosecutor Hannah Mangione said Edwards wrote an email to herself and kept it as a draft before the alleged victim’s 16th birthday.

“In that email she is saying how fond of the child she is … it goes to her sexual interest and her state of mind at the time,” Ms Mangione said.

Ms Mangione said the email foreshadowed Edwards’ actions in the months that followed in which she joined the same gym as the alleged victim used, engaging with his mother to become his confidante.

Mr Mack asked if a person could be charged with grooming if there was no physical sexual contact prior to the alleged victim turning 16.

Ms Mangione said the charge was based on the other person being an adult and their conduct at the time.

Edwards’ solicitor Alex Somers said the alleged victim had stated he had a “normal student-teacher relationship” before she joined the same gym he frequented and there was little or no evidence of any intent to groom him.

“Around a month after he turned 16 he had a conversation with (Edwards) in the gym car park where he told her about his feelings towards her, which made her open up to him a little bit more,” Mr Somers said.

Mr Somers said Edwards, in the alleged victim’s statement, replied that she didn’t know if it was OK that he found her attractive and she was definitely hesitant towards that idea.

The alleged victim stated he initiated kissing with Edwards and they had conversations about whether it was a bad idea and whether it should stop.

“He said the relationship turned sexual … he expressly disavowed (Edwards) being predatory or aggressive towards him in any way and he denies being taken advantage of,” Mr Somers said.

Mr Mack told Edwards it was his opinion that there was sufficient evidence for her to stand trial.

Edwards’ bail was continued with a condition that she have no contact with the alleged victim or his family.

Edwards will face trial on the child grooming charges in the District Court on a date to be fixed.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

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