A former teaching assistant at a Hertfordshire School has been sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of having sexual activity with a 14-year-old boy.
Hannah Harris, 23, was working in a classroom when she met the victim and began an inappropriate relationship with him over the course of several months, pretending to be the mother of a fellow pupil.
She was convicted at St Albans Crown Court on Monday, February 7 of one count of sexual activity with a child aged under 16 and was sentenced to six years behind bars on Wednesday, March 9
She will also be a registered sex offender indefinitely.
Detective Constable Liam Hanrahan, who led the investigation, said: “This has been a long and extensive investigation, with Harris initially being arrested back in early 2020. Harris initiated a sexual relationship with the pupil, who was 14 years old at the time, which continued for several months.
“When suspicions were raised, she continued to fabricate stories and manipulate the victim into lying about the circumstances of what was going on. She employed several tactics in her attempt to hide the relationship, including using aliases on her phone to contact both the victim and his parents.
“She pretended to be the parent of a fictional child in the victim’s year group, manipulating his unknowing parents into facilitating her inappropriate meetings with the victim. Her behaviour was entirely inappropriate, and clearly breached the position of trust and responsibility she held as a teaching assistant at the time. She clearly would have known his age and knew that she was committing a criminal offence.
“I hope she uses her time in prison to reflect on her behaviour and the impact that it will undoubtedly have on her victim. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who believes they may have been a victim of any form of sexual abuse to report it to the police. Please be assured that we will always treat you with the utmost sensitivity and respect.”
Anyone in Hertfordshire who has experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence can contact the Herts Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for practical and emotional support.
The centre can arrange face-to-face support, sexual health referrals, and provide forensic medical examinations for those who want them. This service is open to everyone – men, women and young people, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.
To contact Herts SARC, call the 24/7 helpline on 0808 178 4448, email Herts.SARC@nhs.net or visit www.hertssarc.org.