A former British school deputy wrongly accused of raping a female teenager has alerted other male teachers that they are being viewed as “potential child abusers.”
Kato Harris, 38, who was accused of raping a female minor but was cleared of all charges last year, warned male staff in schools that they face a “lottery” of false accusations and any man considering that career should think twice, The Sun reported.
Harris, who had a newborn daughter recently, was embroiled in two years of hardship after a teenager accused him of attacking her three times at a private school where he used to be a geography teacher.
Although the jury decided he was innocent, he’s now unemployed, lives in a tiny apartment, and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder with anxiety attacks due to the false allegations.
In an interview with TalkRadio, he promised to never go back to teaching in the classroom. “My case delivers a very strong message to men who are thinking about being teachers,” he told TalkRadio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer.
“There is a narrative now in safeguarding in schools as much as anywhere else that every male employee is viewed through the lens of being a potential pervert. Every male teacher is a potential child abuser.
“We know that 22 percent of male teachers have false allegations made about them at some point in their career.
“What happened to me as a male teacher accused of the worst of all crimes of child abuse, it was like winning a lottery you don’t want to win.
“If you become a male teacher you are buying that lottery ticket. You might win the £10 lottery prize—there might be a false allegation that you called a child a rude name.
“You might win the £1,000 prize where a pupil suggests you had inappropriately touched them passing in the corridor.
“And you might win the £1million jackpot—that you took a pupil into a classroom on three separate occasions in the full view of the entire school and raped them.
“Whatever the prize in this awful lottery, I can’t see why anyone would want to have a ticket.”
At a trial last year, it took only 15 minutes for the jury to decide that he’s innocent. Fearing the negative jury decision that would put him in jail, he “sweat” over the weekend before the jury started deliberations, and even got used to doing “prison shopping.”
“The only way I can compare it is with, not only writing your will but sending out the invitations to your funeral and carving your name into your own tombstone, digging the grave and setting out the embalming fluid next to your body,” the accused teacher told the radio host.
“As a prison custody officer had told me, you’re never going to see your daughter again.”
Following the verdict, which cleared him of every charge, he said: “Nearly two years of stress and tension and adrenaline just poured from me and my legs just turned to jelly.
“I lost control of my legs and fell down, burst into hysterical tears—and I sort of came to, breathing very fast. I think the judge had said I could sit down.
“And just a feeling of pins and needles, that sense of, well almost like you’ve escaped death.
“Not long after that the feeling of euphoria and joy and above all a kind of sense of feeling at one with the world, of great love for the world and everyone in it.
“For something I’d felt really bitter about–that the world was a bad place where these things could be allowed to happen–and this tremendous sense of how beautiful the world was and what a sunny day it was.
“And leaving the courtroom and finding two or three members of the jury had actually stayed behind outside the courtroom afterwards to give me their good wishes. It was one of the greatest days of my life.”
But despite enduring the two years of hell, Harris said he’s not angry at his accuser, claiming, “I felt genuinely sorry for her and the train that she had started in motion and had now run away beyond her control.”
The court heard the teenager had a competition with a friend to see who could have “the biggest story” before the teen told the school she had been raped.
The police questioned the student for hours and she finally said it was a geography teacher—linking the allegation to Harris as he was the only man teaching the subject in the school.
Detectives working on the case thought it was suspicious, but the girl’s rich parents hired senior law professionals who put “enormous” pressure to make sure the case went to court, according to a judge in the ruling.