THE headteacher of school where six children say they were sexually assaulted has expressed her horror at discovering the same teacher had previously been accused of a similar offence.

Johnathan Clayton is alleged to have carried out the assaults over a six-week period in 2019 on girls aged between seven and 11.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the supply teacher had been accused of molesting a pupil under 11 at a previous school in 2017, but the case against him was dropped.

Evidence of that alleged incident was allowed to be heard by jurors in support of the prosecution case in the current trial.

In a recorded interview the girl at the first school told detectives that Clayton ran his hand up and down her leg under her skirt and patted her bottom.

She said it happened on more than one occasion.

A formal not guilty verdict was entered when the case reached Durham Crown Court.

However the school where Clayton went on to find work – and where he allegedly abused six pupils – were not made aware of the previous allegations.

The head of the second school was asked by prosecutor Richard Bennett what knowledge they have of an agency teacher’s background.

She said: “Very little. The agency do lots of checks and references beforehand. The vetting is the responsibility of the supply agency.”

The head went on: “I was called to a meeting. I was present together with representatives of the police, the council and a child safety team manager to discuss the allegations made in school.”

It was there that she learned of the past accusations against Clayton and said: “I was horrified – I was shocked.”

Clayton, of Carlton, Stockton, faces 13 charges of sexual assault of a child under the age of 13 and denies all.

Earlier the trial heard how the defendant was accused of touching a young girl’s genitals when he was helping her to get dressed after a sports session at the school.

Another alleged victim started to wear shorts under her skirt because she felt ‘uncomfortable’ with the behaviour of a supply teacher.

She said Clayton would hug her and massage her neck, doing so once after making her stay in during break for talking in class.

“I was really scared that something might happen to me,” she said.

“He was a really nice teacher, apart from all that he was quite nice. But now I understand it all I feel a bit disgusting.”

She said that when he was addressing girls directly rather than as part of the class Clayton would use his “baby voice”.

Another alleged victim told a specially trained offic