Court hears why former teacher told student she loved him
Former Toowoomba Grammar School teacher Meredith Rawlings says she sent a teenage student notes which included messages that she loved him, missed and went to sleep and woke up thinking of him to be "motivational" and "supportive".
The handwritten letters and faxes were put before the court during a civil trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court where Mrs Rawlings is being sued by former student Nicholas Brockhurst who claims the woman groomed him over several months before engaging him in a sexual relationship in the mid-1990's starting when he was aged 13 and she was 29.
A criminal complaint has never been made to police and Mrs Rawlings has never been charged with an offence relating to the allegations. She denies anything inappropriate ever happened between the pair.
The hand written notes tendered to the court during the trial include parts of the lyrics to love songs including Savage Garden's Truly, Madly Deeply and Celine Dion's Seduces Me which Mrs Rawlings says she wrote to the boy at his request so he could learn them on the guitar.
In one note, Mrs Rawlings wrote to her student in a school holiday of 1997: "Just remember because you're not hearing from me often doesn't mean I'm not thinking of you. I'm thinking of you every minute of every day, I go to sleep with you on my mind and I wake up the same way. You're very special to me Nick and I love you very much."
Under cross examination from Mr Brockhurst's barrister Brian Dooley SC, Mrs Rawlings said she wrote notes to the boy at the request of his parents to support him during a tough emotional time.
"What I'm suggesting to you is these are words which you have written to him because you are in an emotional and sexual relationship with Nicholas Brockhurst, isn't that right?," Mr Dooley asked.
"No, that's not correct," she replied.
Mrs Rawlings said she wrote the words about thinking of the boy at night and in the morning because "I was worrying about him a lot".
Mr Dooley put to her that the words "you are very special to me, Nick and I love you very much" were not the words of a teacher to a student.
"No, but they could be the words of a friend to another friend who was having a lot of difficulties with their mental state," Mrs Rawlings said.
"So you're dealing with (his) mental state while (his) mother and father are doing nothing, is that what you're saying?," Mr Dooley asked her.
"No, I was in contact with Cecile (his mum) and she was also extremely concerned about his mental state. I had been asked by Cecile on a number of occasions to assist," Mrs Rawlings said.
Mr Dooley queried the use of the words "I love you" the woman wrote to the boy in other notes which she said was intended to be "motivational".
"Well, we're talking about a 14-year-old boy, do you really think writing to him as a 30-year-old woman saying 'I love you' is motivational?," he asked.
She responded: "Mr Dooley, I tell my children I love them all the time, so yes I suppose it is motivational in one way because it makes you realise you are valued."
"I felt quite maternal towards Nick."
The barrister asked the mother-of-three if she would have a problem with a 30-year-old woman writing 'I love you' to her teenage son.
"If the person writing to my children had been discussing it with me, if my child was suicidal, if my child had a positive relationship with this person, these are all factors that you would have to consider," she said.
Mrs Rawlings denied propositions she had "fabricated" testimony about Mr Brockhurst being suicidal and about his mother's requests for her to regularly contact him.
"What I want to suggest to you is that this talk of suicide is, in fact, a total fabrication on your part?," Mr Dooley said.
"I disagree," Mrs Rawlings said.
"And you've made it up for the sole purpose of justifying this fiction about his mother wanting you to write letters and to speak with Nicholas is that right?"
"No," she said.
Mrs Rawlings resigned her position at the school in 1997 after Mr Brockhurst's parents found letters from the woman in their son's room and took them to the school.
Mrs Rawlings' husband Mark, a prominent Toowoomba chef, took the stand on the final day of evidence and told the court his wife regularly sent notes and cards to people and it had always been "what she does".
The evidence in the trial has now concluded and the case has been adjourned to May when the parties will make oral submissions to trial judge Justice Soraya Ryan.
Originally published as Court hears why former teacher told student she loved him