On Friday 5th June 2020 a former Birmingham dance teacher was convicted of further sexual offences against former pupils and was sentenced to an additional eight year sentence, having previously received a five year sentence in 2018.
Neil Harris of Manta Road, Tamworth taught a dance school in Erdington for over fifty years from 1957 to 2017.
Initially Harris was investigated after a woman came forward in 2015. The woman who was taught by him from 1983 onwards conducted an internet search and identified Harris as still being an active teacher of a dance studio.
Concerned by this fact and given her own experiences at the hand of Harris, she consulted with the police.
An investigation was launched and in addition to the original complainant, more people were identified and many allegations of inappropriate touching and sexual abuse were made towards Harris.
In March 2017, Harris was charged with 21 counts of indecent assault of 7 children. He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for these offences.
Now 74, 2 years into his original 5 year sentence following a 3 week trial at Birmingham Crown Court in March 2020 Harris was found guilty of 19 counts of indecent assault on 10 girls and 1 boy between the 1960s and 1990s.
At sentencing Her Honour Judge Heidi Kubik commented
“All but two victims were under 13 at the time and some were very young indeed. Your offending was spanning decades from 1967 to 1991. You used your position as a teacher to touch for your own sexual thrill. You were brazen; with such regularity that your young pupils accepted your sexual behaviour as normal.
Your actions have had a long lasting and serious impact on your victims which was evident from their evidence in Court and their victim personal statements. Your criminal actions have impacted on the self confidence and trust in others as they grew into adulthood and beyond. Some have suffered with depression, self harm and intimacy.
You have maintained your innocence and each victim has had to come to Court and relive their experiences “
Leading the criminal investigation, DC Nichola Thomas commended the bravery of the individuals who have come forward and spoken about their individual experiences at the hands of Harris.
She stated that: “If they had not seen the media coverage of Harris’ last trial (2017) it is possible that these further crimes would never have been uncovered. I would like to reassure anyone who has been through anything similar or feels that someone of authority may have acted inappropriately towards them in the past, that we will investigate and prosecute those responsible. I would urge anyone who has ever thought about speaking to the police comes forward. We are here to help you.”
Farleys Solicitors are here to assist you also and represent many hundreds of survivors who have been the subject of horrendous assaults and sexual abuse at the hands of individuals whom they trusted and expected to nurture them in their chosen education and leisure pursuits.
We continue to pursue claims for survivors of sexual abuse against teachers /coaches of dance, football, athletics, tennis, swimming, music, as well as their employers and/or local authorities should they be vicariously liable for the abusers actions.
As acknowledged specialists in abuse law, we understand that talking to a solicitor about sexual abuse that you have suffered will be extremely difficult and we want to assure you that we will do everything in our power to make sure that you not only feel safe and comfortable with your solicitor, but that you receive the appropriate compensation for your suffering.
I would welcome your enquiry either directly via telephone on 01282 718000, via our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org