False accusations “have made teaching lottery for men”

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Kato Harris
Teacher's false accusation nightmare (Credit: Daily Mail)

A teacher cleared of raping a 14-year-old girl at an exclusive London school has warned other men to avoid the teaching profession after the false accusation ruined his career and left him suicidal. He says he can no longer see why “any man in his right mind” would become a teacher.

Kato Harris, 38, was accused of raping and sodomising the girl three times at the London school in 2013. A court has cleared him of all charges, with the jury taking only 26 minutes to reach their not guilty verdict. The swift verdict and lack of any corroborating evidence left awkward questions for the London Metropolitan Police and England’s Crown Prosecution Service to answer.

“I would certainly advocate that no man qualify as a teacher. It is just not worth it. I will never work with children again – I will never put myself in that position of vulnerability.”

Mr Harris, who is now unemployed, living in a bedsit and surviving on benefits, even felt like taking his own life after the accusation wad made against him.

Teaching made his life “like a wonderful dream” while his career was going well and his partner was expecting their first child, but when faced rape charges his life was destroyed and he was in “total shock”. He told the Mail on Sunday: “I would certainly advocate that no man qualify as a teacher. It is just not worth it.” He added: “If I knew on the day I qualified what I know now, I would never have become a teacher. I will never work with children again – I will never put myself in that position of vulnerability.”

“What is the lesson here? There is nothing to protect the male teacher. I had to give up my dream job because of a crime I didn’t commit,” he said in an interview, adding that it will be “one of the biggest challenges” to forgive his accuser.

With one in five UK teachers being falsely accused of some form of misconduct by a pupil during their career, Mr Harris said it was like “buying a lottery ticket” for a man to join the teaching profession. The only solution is for men “only to teach boys, or not to teach at all.”

Kato Harris
Press coverage of male teacher’s false accusation nightmare

Mr Harris was working as head of geography and assistant head at the school when he was accused in December 2014 of having raped a girl during lunchbreaks in autumn 2013. He also said he had made the decision to kill himself if he was charged, but that with the arrival of a baby daughter he wanted to carry on and prove his innocence. “I’ve looked into the abyss. But every day I wake up and I’m a daddy and not in prison – and that’s the best thing that I could have hoped for.”

“What is the lesson here? There is nothing to protect the male teacher. I had to give up my dream job because of a crime I didn’t commit.”

After he was found not guilty in July 2016, Mr Harris told a crowd outside the court: “The last 20 months have put massive stress on my family. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their love and care. I am grateful for the hundreds of letters from former colleagues, friends, past pupils who sent messages of support. I will reply to all.”

He added: “It is my sincere wish that this extraordinary case does not deter people who have been victims of sexual abuse coming forward in the future. There is a beautiful world out there and for 20 months I’ve been terrified of it, and I’ve been hiding from it. I’m now going into it a good man, and a free man.

Click on the image below to listen to Kato Harris recount his false accusation nightmare with Julia Hartley-Brewer of London’s TalkRadio.

Kato Harris
Kato Harris with Julia Hartley-Brewer (TalkRadio, May 11, 2017)

A spokesman for campaign group accused.me.uk, which seeks to defend men from false rape accusations, said it has seen “an increasing stream of lies” that are “ruining the lives of men like Kato Harris.” He added: “Whilst all allegations of a sexual or violent nature against women and children need to be taken seriously, his case is one of many that shows that decent men are being publicly pilloried for things they didn’t do.”