TWO schoolgirls raped on an organised trip to Central America should have screamed for help, a female teacher told a court yesterday.
She said that she had been sleeping a few yards from their cabin during the adventure trip to Belize, but heard nothing of the incident.
“Had the girls shouted, there would have been no problem. We were always running around, keeping an eye,” she said.
She and two adult leaders had been within easy hearing distance, she added. “We are talking 15 metres apart. Noise travels incredibly well and, had anything been amiss, the leaders would have been up and running, as would I.”
When Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC, for the girls, asked why their cabin had not been locked at night, the teacher replied: “I could not go around like a total sergeant major and lock them in.
“The last thing I was going to do was prevent them from getting a quick exit.”
Describing her shock the morning after the rapes, the teacher said she did not understand why the girls believed she was doubting their account of the ordeal.
“There were differences in what they were saying that were quite large. It was important to ask quite firmly, 'Hey, what happened?’?” she told the court.
Asked if she accepted the girls’ account, the teacher replied: “We always have done.” The girls were aged 15 and 16 at the time.
Miss Gumbel asked the teacher whether she had noticed anything odd about the attacker, who was the son of the resort owner. She questioned why he had been allowed to sleep near the girls and escort them to their cabin by torchlight at night.
The teacher said that there had been no reason to have doubts about the attacker, who had been charming and friendly, and told the court: “You can’t suspect every man of being a rapist.”
Observing that Criminal Record Bureau checks were not available in Belize, the teacher said that such checks would not have showed up anything against the man.
“This was in reality an entirely unchecked man,” Miss Gumbel said. The teacher responded: “We checked him as much as we could.”
The two former schoolgirls, now in their twenties, say that they will never get over being raped during what was intended to be a character-building trip. They have suffered depression and post traumatic stress disorder, the court has heard.
They are claiming six-figure damages from their former school, in the Medway area of Kent, England and the tour’s organisers, Adventure Lifesigns Plc.
The school and organisers say they cannot be held responsible for the crimes of a rapist who, they claim, had been invited into the girls’ cabin for a forbidden late night drinking session.
The hearing continues.