On trial: Natalie Adams is accused of having an under-age relationship with a former student. Photo: Jay Cronan
A former Canberra teacher has admitted she had sex with a year 10 student.
But Natalie Adam, 49, told a Canberra court the boy had been 16 years old at the time of the affair.
Adam, of Melbourne, is on trial in the ACT Supreme Court on three counts of having sex with a minor between February to July 1989.
She has pleaded not guilty.
The Crown alleges Adam – who taught at the boy’s Canberra high school at the time – had a sexual relationship with him while he was aged 15. But Adam, who took the witness stand on day two of the trial, told the court on Tuesday she and the boy did not engage in sexual intercourse until after his 16th birthday. The age of consent is 16.
The court heard Adam first became involved with the troubled boy as a support person in an attempt to keep him in school. The relationship then grew into a romantic and sexual relationship.
Earlier in the day, the court heard evidence from the alleged victim’s older brother, who described how he found a used condom in the bin after the woman stayed the night.
When the then 17-year-old confronted them about it, the accused allegedly replied: "We were just practising". The brother told the court that the sleepover occurred mid-July, before the alleged victim's 16th birthday.
He said he could remember the date because it was the same week he had a cast removed from a broken arm. Adam admitted she spent the night at the house, but denied any sexual activity or confrontation with the brother.
The defendant said the sleepover occurred in mid-August after she had taken the boy to the Belconnen Labor Club to belatedly celebrate his 16th birthday. She said they kissed, but did not have sex on that night or the next morning.
Adam said they had sex weeks later, shortly before she lost her job. A teacher at the school at the time said Adam had been removed from her position late in the year amid rumours of an affair with the student. He said he confronted her about the gossip and she responded: "You’ve got nothing to worry about". Adam told the court she and the boy had not started the sexual relationship at the time of the conversation.
When Crown prosecutor Sarah McMurray said the explanation seemed "incredible", Adam replied: "It’s not incredible, it’s stupid".
"Twenty years later, I know it as inappropriate for a teacher to have a relationship with a student," Adam told the court. "It was a wrong thing and a stupid thing to do."
The trial before Chief Justice Helen Murrell continues on Wednesday.