Ex-boys’ school teacher Russell Tillson jailed for pupil sex abuse The former teacher was convicted of four counts of indecent assault - pic Kent Police

By Tanya Gupta

BBC News

A former teacher who worked at an independent boys’ school has been jailed for sex assaults on two pupils.

Kent Police said abuse carried out by Russell Tillson at Tonbridge School began in the 1980s and continued over a period spanning almost 20 years.

Tillson, 73, of Dymchurch, was convicted of four counts of indecent assault and jailed for five years and eight months at Maidstone Crown Court.

The school welcomed Tillson’s sentence and praised victims for their bravery.

After Tillson was sentenced on Friday, Det Con Josh Gearing from Kent Police said: “Sex offenders like Tillson wreak incalculable damage on their victims, many who will suffer in silence for years, or throughout their whole lives.

“Thankfully in this case the victims have shown tremendous courage to come forward.

“Today’s sentence will not take away the trauma they were made to endure as children, but it will hopefully bring some closure.”

Exploited influence

Police said allegations were first made in 2018 and an investigation led to evidence he committed offences in the classroom and in a private residence he held at the school.

Tillson, of Ship Close, occupied a senior role and any decisions he made could have a significant influence on pupils’ future educational aspirations, police said.

Detectives said he exploited this influence to make advances on victims – including one occasion when a boy was offered an enhanced university reference that Tillson suggested could be achieved by “unconventional methods”.

When he was arrested in October 2020, Tillson denied all allegations in police interviews and dismissed the claims as “fiction”, police said.

Tillson, who was cleared on two other charges, was also given a 15-year sexual harm prevention order.

A spokesman for Tonbridge School said: “We are appalled that a former member of our staff should have behaved in such a disgraceful way and welcome the fact he will serve a term in jail for what he has done.

“We are profoundly sorry that his victims endured such distressing experiences. It is clear that they showed enormous courage in speaking out, and their moving impact statements have given us cause for deep reflection.

“We thank them for their bravery, which has ensured justice has now been done.”


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