Internet predator jailed over sex with schoolgirl

Herald Sun Newspaper, Victoria, Australia
By County Court reporter KELLY RYAN
September 5, 2000

CHRISTOPHER Arthur Ellingford was the nightmare of every teenage girl’s
parents ? an Internet sex prowler.

The respected high school math teacher threw away his career, his
reputation and his freedom when he wooed, won and then sexually molested
a 14-year-old girl he met through a chat site.

He was 37, and well knew the risks of an illicit and illegal sexual
liaison with an under-age teenager.

She was 14, but pretended to be an 18-year-old shop assistant.

Ellingford met the girl after several months of cyber communications and
had been warned by both his victim’s mother and police that she was
under-age, a County Court judge said yesterday.

When she finally dated the older teacher, the girl was molested in his
car as they parked at a suburban service station.

She had been a willing participant, according to the judge, if one so
young could be said to know what they were doing.

Ellingford had been told by the girl’s mother over the phone, and “in no
uncertain terms” by police that she was aged only 14 or 15.

Yet he had arranged to meet her again a month later when he had again
sexually molested her, that time at his Balwyn home, Judge Lance Pilgrim
said.

Judge Pilgrim said he had been forced to read the “utter filth”
Ellingford had communicated through chat sites to various women that was
later transcribed into print for court purposes.

When police had turned up after his victim had been reported for the
second time as a missing person, they had found her in his house as he
communicated by computer with other women.

Judge Pilgrim said the case drew attention to the problem parents had in
exercising control over their children’s use of the Internet. “It must be
of great concern to parents on how they control young children on these
chat programs,” the judge said.

Ellingford’s elderly mother, who supported her son through his plea
hearing last month, gasped loudly as Judge Pilgrim sentenced him to three
years’ jail.

Ellingford had covered his face with his hand, and appeared temporarily
frozen in disbelief and unable to move from the dock as he was ordered to
serve a minimum of 18 months.

His last high school posting had been at Princes Hill Secondary School, a
job he quit without notice on the death of his father.

The court heard Ellingford had then taken up drinking and gambling, for
which he had been forced to take out a loan.

He pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual penetration of a person aged
between 10 and 16.

Despite his plea, and the circumstances of the case against him,
Ellingford appeared shocked and shook his head in disbelief as he was
forcibly led from court yesterday by a custody officer.

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