Teacher sentenced to prison for molesting children while reading Bible

REUTERS/Files

A former teacher has been sentenced to three and a half years in jail for molesting children while reading passages from the Bible.

Stephen Gough, 79, worked as a woodwork teacher at a school in Aukland, New Zealand, and was a committed churchgoer and active member of the local community. He admitted to nine child sex abuse charges on Wednesday.

"It's hard to imagine a more gross breach of trust," sentencing judge Kevin Glubb said, highlighting the "persistent, relentless and repeated" nature of Gough's crimes.

Gough molested three girls and one boy over an 11-year period, and also carved out a peep hole under a house to watch children while they showered.

He apparently read out passages of the Bible to them during the abuse. Judge Glubb condemned his behaviour, saying he used the children as "sexual toys".

"This is a very sad day. It represents an appalling track record of invasive offending against very vulnerable young children," he added. "It's a total disgrace."

One of Gough's victims told the New Zealand Herald that she will never get over her torment.

"It was horrible. My mother knew this was going on, the neighbours knew, other relatives...no one ever did anything," she said.

"It wasn't just the sexual abuse, he had me living in terror. I will never get over that."

It is thought that more victims may come forward in light of Gough's sentencing, and fresh charges could be brought against him.

His short sentence reflects his age, and that he completed three programmes to address sexual urges by 1993. The allegations came to light last year.

Lifestyle