Jeremy Forrest trial: Schoolgirl 'worried teacher could be imprisoned over relationship'
PUBLISHED: 15:06 18 June 2013 | UPDATED: 15:15 18 June 2013
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A schoolgirl allegedly abducted to France by teacher Jeremy Forrest was worried that he could be imprisoned for "sexual contact" with her, a friend has told a court.
The girl was 15 when she started a sexual relationship with 30-year-old Forrest, of Chislehurst Road, Petts Wood after developing a crush on him at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex.
A friend of the girl, whose video-recorded police interview was shown to Lewes Crown Court today, said lots of rumours went around the school about the teenager’s relationship with Forrest.
She said the girl only confirmed her relationship with the teacher to her on the day they fled to France.
The 16-year-old said: “(The girl) was talking about what could happen to Mr Forrest, how long he could go to prison for.
“She was speaking about all the things he could go to prison for - she said sexual contact and she gave like a nod.”
The witness said she and another friend were with the girl as Forrest picked her up to take her to France.
She said the girl was calm and added: “She wasn’t under any pressure.
Another friend, a 16-year-old boy, said in his video interview that many of the pupils in Forrest’s class regarded him as a friend.
He said: “Quite a lot of people in my class and other people thought of him more as a friend rather than a teacher. I liked him.”
The mother of the schoolgirl said she did not know the whereabouts of her daughter for the seven days before she was caught.
She also said that she had not given permission to Forrest to take her away and would not have done if asked.
She said: “I thought she was dead and I did ask the police that as well.”
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that she was first warned by the school about rumours about her daughter and Forrest about two weeks after the trip to Los Angeles in February 2012.
She said she was told that “there were rumours amongst the pupils that she had got close to him but there was nothing found”.
The mother said she confronted her daughter when she eturned home.
She said: “When she got back from school, she came in and I sat her down and told her the call I had.
“She broke down, completely cried, she said that it was just nasty rumours as he was the teacher that calmed her down on the plane.”
She said that Forrest then called her and broke down in tears as he spoke of the rumours which he said were false.
“He said that he wanted to nip it all in the bud before the school started again in September.
“He alluded that (my daughter) was being a bit of a pain, he said (she) kept hanging around him.
“He said he couldn’t allow this to ruin his career so I had a conversation with him, I felt I was coaching him, consoling him because he was getting quite upset on the phone.
“He was upset about it getting worse, he kept going on and on about his career.
“I apologised for my daughter’s behaviour, I said ‘leave it with me, I will sort it, I would take full responsibility and sort it’.”
She said after school on the day Forrest and her daughter fled to France, the girl phoned to ask permission to stay at a friend’s house and came home to pick up an overnight bag.
She said that, as she was leaving, “she came over to me, jumping all over me.
“I said to her ‘Sweetheart, I love you too’. She gave me kisses on my face and left.”
Forrest denies the charge of abduction. The trial continues.