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Former high school teacher allegedly sent student 'R-rated communications' via social media

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 4 days ago By court reporter Meagan Dillon
a man in a suit standing in front of a building: Adrian Neil Terrace is standing trial in the District Court for grooming a student for sex and kissing her. (ABC News: Meagan Dillon) © Provided by ABC NEWS Adrian Neil Terrace is standing trial in the District Court for grooming a student for sex and kissing her. (ABC News: Meagan Dillon)

A former Adelaide high school teacher standing trial for grooming a student for sex and kissing her had a rating system for his social media platforms and would send R-rated content via Instagram, a court has heard.

Adrian Neil Terrace – known as "Mr T" or "T" by his students – was the music teacher at Urrbrae Agricultural High School when he was arrested and charged with grooming and indecently assaulting a student.

The 48-year-old has since been stood down.

Opening her case before Judge Michael Boylan today, prosecutor Vanessa Burrows said over one summer, almost 2,300 Facebook messages were exchanged between Mr Terrace and the student.

She said the accused tried to "cultivate a romantic relationship" with the girl.

"The accused moved from what had been friendly classroom banter to social media — it was there that the communications became more flirtatious," she said.

"He used Facebook messenger for what he called his PG messages. Your Honour will hear that he used a separate application, WhatsApp, for M-rated and Instagram for R-rated communications.

"You will hear that the [student] has deleted all of the content from her WhatsApp and Instagram accounts."

Ms Burrows said the messages were "never explicitly sexual" but it would be the prosecution case that they showed Mr Terrace "developing sexual interest" in her.

She said by Christmas that summer, the accused was inviting the student to "hang out on his couch" and she would "deflect the invitations".

"But he persisted, and sent her a message over Instagram saying, 'We could do more on my couch, you know?'" Ms Burrows said.

"It's the prosecution case that the accused sent that message for a prurient purpose with the intention of making her amenable to either engage in physical sexual activity in the near future, or perhaps, more likely, to make her amenable to engage in sexual conversations in order to achieve more immediate sexual gratification."

Court hears of alleged sports day kiss

Ms Burrows told the court the girl's mother found some of the messages and confronted Mr Terrace, who admitted the line between teacher and student had been "blurred".

She said the accused told his alleged victim's mother that he cared for her daughter but in a "father figure way" and could only communicate with her through a school-based messaging system.

"The accused began to leave handwritten notes for [her] in her school pigeonhole and he continued to communicate with her via social media, in particular using the applications Snapchat and Instagram," Ms Burrows said.

She said Mr Terrace created two new email addresses and gave himself the alias "Steve Crouch" so he could continue to communicate with her, giving her the nickname "baby".

The court was told that on sports day, the alleged victim and a fellow student were working on their assignment in the arts building when she went to get something from the music room.

"He pulled her towards him and kissed her on the lips. She felt shocked and pulled away," Ms Burrows said.

Ms Burrows said the kiss was witnessed by the other student.

Anthony Allen, for Mr Terrace, told the court his client admitted the messages he sent to the student were "inappropriate" but denied they were criminal.

"Some of the communications may be inappropriate, but they fall short of what the law requires to make them criminal," he said.

He said the former teacher also denied the charge of aggravated indecent assault.

The alleged victim is giving evidence in a closed court.

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