“The admitted behavior is a serious departure from the standards expected of a teacher,” Paul Heathcote, an official from the Department of Education in England, said. He was referring to a bizarre incident that happened nearly three decades ago but is just now coming to the public’s attention.
53-year-old Stephen Pieter Grobbelaar, a former educator at Grey High School in Johannesburg, South Africa, admitted before a disciplinary board in England to hypnotizing a 16-year-old student in 1987 and then molesting him.
It all started when the troubled teen came to his teacher for help. He was worried about his final math exams and needed guidance. Grobbelaar, who, in addition to being both a teacher and a counselor, was also an expert in hypnotherapy, told the boy his math would improve if he allowed himself to be hypnotized and made to believe he enjoyed the subject. The student agreed and the two met up again later in Grobbelaar’s office.
Once the student was successfully put into a trance, Grobbelaar slipped down the teen’s tracksuit pants and performed oral sex on him. Then he pulled down his own pants, stood behind the kid, and rubbed his wiener against his bare butt for a few minutes before pulling the kid’s pants back up then snapping his fingers to awaken him.
Upon opening his eyes, the teen had no recollection of the assault.
A week later, Grobbelaar approached the student again and said the hypnosis had to be “reinforced” in order to be effective. They arranged a second hypnotherapy session. This time, Grobbelaar put the teen into a trance and told him he would remember absolutely nothing of the previous week’s sexual assault.
The second hypnosis almost worked. Until three years later when the boy suddenly remembered everything that had happened. He contacted the school and Grobbelaar abruptly resigned from his job, fleeing from South Africa to Britain.
Years passed. Grobbelaar found another teaching job in the U.K. 11 years ago, he accepted a high paying position at Windlesham House, a prestigious prep school in West Sussex. Then last August, the student tracked him down and contacted administrators to alert them of Grobbelaar’s pervy past.
A spokeswoman for the school said officials were “shocked” by the allegations and immediately distanced themselves from Grobbelaar, telling The Argus, “This incident is totally unrelated to Windlesham and it happened long before he arrived with us. There was absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing while he was with us, and this is just totally unrelated to Windlesham.”
Grobbelaar admitted the allegations before a teacher misconduct panel late last month. The panel ruled he had engaged in “unacceptable professional conduct.”
Panel chairwoman Janet Draper said: “The panel recognizes that Grobbelaar’s actions seriously damaged a pupil aged 16 at the time and for many years after. Mr. Grobbelaar was in a position of trust, which he breached in a deliberate and carefully planned manner.”
“Nevertheless,” she added, “the panel has been presented with a body of evidence which suggests that the teacher has shown remorse and insight, has attempted to atone for his actions over a considerable period and is ashamed of what he did.”
She continued: “The evidence before the panel suggests that this was an isolated incident involving one pupil, which took place over 25 years ago. The panel is also persuaded from his employment record and references as a teacher over the last 22 years that he is an excellent and inspirational teacher. The panel believes the risk of repetition of the behavior is low.”
The Department of Education ruled that Grobbelaar be banned indefinitely from teaching in any other school. The hypnotherapist now has 28 days to appeal the decision to London’s High Court.