Headmaster smacked girls’ bare bottoms

By David Sapsted 

THE former headmaster of one of the country’s leading preparatory schools, attended by the Countess of Wessex, walked from court yesterday after pleading guilty to nine charges of indecently assaulting pupils.

Spanked bare bottoms: Robin PeverettRobin Peverett, 66, head of the £7,000-a-year Dulwich College Preparatory School in Cranbrook, Kent, admitted stroking or smacking the bare bottoms of pupils.

Peverett was charged after one of his former pupils told her husband of her experiences while watching the wedding last year of the duchess, then Sophie Rhys-Jones, to Prince Edward. The woman’s husband convinced her to go to the police, prompting other former pupils to come forward. Peverett, who taught at the school from 1960 to 1990 and was headmaster for his last 20 years there, admitted the offences against six girls and a boy over a 10-year period at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for two years.

Among the nine counts he admitted were spanking a boy for fluffing his lines in a school production of Twelfth Night and smacking a girl to “help” her learn Latin. There was no suggestion that the duchess, who attended from 1969 to 76, was one of his victims.

Peverett, of Battle, East Sussex, was awarded the OBE for services to education in 1995 and served as an adviser on education to the Thatcher government. While headmaster he had lived at the school with his wife and children.

Brendan Finucane, prosecuting, said: “The incidents went beyond acceptable forms of corporal punishment. He sought to gratify his own strange desires, exercising power over the children concerned.”

Two of the counts, he said, involved the original complainant. When the girl was 10, she was called into Peverett’s study and told her work was “not up to par”. Mr Finucane said Peverett pulled her across his knee, pulled up her skirt and removed her knickers before smacking and rubbing her buttocks.

On the next occasion he pulled her on to his lap, pulling down her dress and fondling her buttocks. Mr Finucane said: “She said nothing because the defendant was her headmaster.”

In interviews with police after his arrest last September, Peverett admitted indulging in “expressions of power”, said Mr Finucane. He conceded that he had been “extremely arrogant”.

Geoffrey Cox, defending, described Peverett as “an extremely distinguished figure in the education world” whose “distinction and service to thousands of pupils is immeasurable”. Mr Cox said: “He would like to apologise to these pupils who have suffered and is feeling the shame and sorrow of his actions.”

Passing sentence, Judge David Griffiths said he took into account the hundreds of glowing testimonies he had received about Peverett. Seven further counts of indecent assault were ordered to lie on the file.