A Brisbane high school teacher alleged to have groomed a 15-year-old has been committed to stand trial – but her lawyer says the boy disagrees that he was taken advantage of.
Chelsea Jane Edwards, 29, was a sports co-ordinator at Indooroopilly State High School and living on the Gold Coast in 2022 when she is alleged to have groomed the child.
Ms Edwards, who was not required to enter a plea, was committed in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Tuesday to face Brisbane District Court at a date to be set.
She faced two counts of grooming a child, relating to the boy who was 15 at the time of the alleged offending, while a third charge of indecent treatment was dropped due to dispute over the time a photo was taken.
Ms Edwards’ lawyer, Alex Somers of Nyst Legal, said there was no procurement or enticement, according to the boy’s statement to police.
“After his 16th birthday, a personal friendship developed,” he said.
“In the boy’s statement, a month after he turned 16 a conversation occurred … about his feelings for her."
He said the statement went on to claim the boy told Ms Edwards he found her attractive but that she appeared hesitant.
“It progressed to kissing later, which he initiated,” Mr Somers said.
He told the court a sexual relationship began in about October or November 2022.
“He disagrees that the defendant has been predatory at any time and denies he was taken advantage of.”
Mr Somers said there was no evidence his client took steps to take advantage of the boy and no properly instructed jury could convict Ms Edwards of grooming.
However, Crown prosecutor Hannah Mangione told the court that an email which Ms Edwards sent to herself indicated her state of mind at the time.
The email, sent before the boy had turned 16, described how fond she was of him.
“All the acts after are done through the lens [of Ms Edwards wanting a relationship],” Ms Mangione said.
Under Queensland law, grooming does not have to involve physical contact or actual indecent treatment of a minor before they turn 16.
It merely has to be an action or acts intended to facilitate that, even if the actual physical contact happens months or years in the future after a child has turned 16.
Magistrate Ross Mack said that there was sufficient evidence to commit Ms Edwards to trial.
He committed her to the Brisbane District Court at a date to be fixed.
The magistrate also enlarged Ms Edwards’ bail and banned her from contact with the boy or his family.Do you have an idea for a story?
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