Prestigious public school housemaster jailed for sexually assaulting five boys during 20-year campaign of abuse
A housemaster at one of Britain’s most prestigious public schools was jailed for 11 years today after being found guilty of sexually assaulting five young boys during a ‘20-year campaign of abuse’.
Predatory paedophile Bruce Roth, 46, would sneak into the dormitory of £30,000-a-year Wellington College to molest his victims as they slept.
He was also convicted of assaulting two eight-year-old boys at £26,000-a-year King’s School, in Kent, where he worked before his recent post at the Berkshire boarding school.
Throughout the trial, the court heard that ‘highly manipulative’ maths teacher Roth had performed sex acts on some of the boys and had encouraged one child to do the same to him.
He was initially investigated and suspended at Rochester’s King’s School, where he worked between 1987 and 1994, after relatives of the two pupils reported him to staff.
But following an internal inquiry, Roth, a former singer with 80s pop band The Housemartins, was exonerated after a teacher decided it was his word against that of a pupil.
His reign of abuse did not end until one of his victims phoned children’s charity ChildLine and he was finally arrested in October 2010.
Roth vehemently denied the charges against him – accusing his victims of conspiring against him because they did not like him as a teacher.
He even went as far as to brand one of them a ‘fantasist’ with a ‘sinister’ side.
But today, he was convicted of 17 counts of sexual offences against children after month-long week trial at Reading Crown Court.
The £30,000-a-year Wellington College in Berkshire, where Roth abused his victims as they slept
Roth was also convicted of assaulting two eight-year-old boys at £26,000-a-year King’s School, in Kent
As the jury returned their verdicts, Roth, who was dressed in a smart grey suit and tie, stood in the dock and shook his head in disbelief.
As the foreman read the guilty counts, a woman was heard sobbing in the public gallery.
Prosecutor Daniel Fugallo said: ‘Over a period of 20 years, from the late 1980s through to 2009, he has abused his position of trust as a teacher by touching five boys in his care for his own sexual gratification.
‘These boys were at the time these offences took place, say the prosecution, between eight and 15 years old.
‘They are now all young men in their late 20s and 30s.’
Earlier in the trial the jury had visited Wellington College, whose master is Tony Blair’s biographer Anthony Seldon, to be shown the corridors and dorms where pupils alleged they were abused.
After the sentencing, Mr Seldon said he was ‘sickened and appalled by his employee’s vile crimes.’
He added: ’The whole staff at Wellington, who work tirelessly to nurture and protect the pupils at the college, are angered and saddened that a staff member could have committed these vile crimes.
‘This abuse represents a terrible betrayal of trust – that Roth could have preyed on vulnerable boys who were in his care is unforgivable.
‘As head of this school which is trying to provide education and care of the highest standard, I am deeply sickened and appalled by what has happened.
‘The very day a former pupil of the college came forward with his accusations, we immediately suspended Mr Roth and reported our concerns to the police and social services.
During the subsequent investigations we have worked closely with the authorities to ensure that no stone has been left unturned and that the police managed to gather sufficient evidence to lead to a conviction.
‘Indeed the police have publicly acknowledged Wellington’s actions and responsiveness throughout the course of their investigations.
‘Unfortunately, no vetting system can ever guarantee that every paedophile is identified. I am happy that Wellington offers the greatest possible protection to its pupils. We have been praised in the highest possible terms for our pastoral care.’
The elite school also counts broadcaster Peter Snow, comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner, pop star Will Young, journalist and author Sebastian Faulks among its alumni.
Former pupils of King’s School include ex-Conservative cabinet minister John Gummer and former Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong.
The court heard that one of Roth’s first victims contacted him years later on Facebook to ask if he was a paedophile after remembering how he had touched his groin.
The boy recalled how Roth, who has toured with DJ Fat Boy Slim (Norman Cook), would often punish boys by making then strip to their underwear and run laps, or lie on their backs and memorise constellations, the court heard.
Another former pupil told how Roth would enter his dormitory in the middle of the night to sit on his bed.
He would tell him not to move as he carried out his vile attack.
One of his victims was so traumatised that he later tried to kill himself.
The court also heard that shooting enthusiast Roth’s computer was analysed by police and it was discovered that he had typed ‘teen boy sex’ into a search engine.
On sentencing, Judge Simon Davis described Roth as a ‘plausible, intelligent man’, who was capable of being highly manipulative.
He said his crimes at Wellington College may have been shaped by his being cleared of wrongdoing at his previous school in Kent.
He said: ‘You set about abusing your privileged surroundings and position of trust in a truly grave manner. I have no doubt you carefully chose your targets.’
Roth had denied all 17 charges against him, four of indecent assault on a male person under 16, four counts of sexual activity with a child, three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in a sexual activity and six counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust. All of the charges related to incidents between 1987 and 2009.