Friday, February 26, 2016

School caretaker resigned from job after parents accused him of wanting to open a sex shop

A school caretaker has resigned after parents accused him of wanting to open a sex shop. Mark Moody, 47, had been caretaker at the Mount Church of England Primary School in Newark, Nottinghamshire, for 12 years. When his partner began thinking about a new business venture he said the school was initially supportive, provided it remained separate from his work at the school. Mr Moody said it became an issue when his partner, Emma Sullivan, 33, got some sample sex toys and uploaded an image of them to her personal Facebook page, which has privacy settings that mean it cannot be publicly viewed. A hand on the picture holding one of the items was identified as Mr Moody’s by a tattoo. He said someone took a screenshot of the image and posted it on a community Facebook page. It was claimed there was a direct link between Mr Moody and the new business and, therefore, the business and the school. Mr Moody said some parents started a petition against his employment at the school and he was branded a pervert and suspended from a job he loved.

Mr Moody, who had one unrelated written warning during his time as caretaker, resigned before a disciplinary hearing that was listed for February 12 because, he said, he felt his position was untenable. “After the picture was published, it was being said that school site managers shouldn’t run sex shops, yet Emma was opening it and Emma would be running it,” he said. “Parents were writing letters saying I was a pervert. From October half-term I was suspended until I handed in my notice. I thoroughly enjoyed working at the school, and with the staff and the children and sharing in their achievements. I personally feel a lot of animosity with the way things have gone. I never would have done anything to paint the school in a bad light.” Miss Sullivan said: “I thought about an Ann Summers-type shop of the sort you see on any high street. It was to be 70%-80% lingerie for plus-size women, which Newark doesn’t have, and the rest sex toys, lubricants and condoms.”

She said the idea for the sex shop came about because she was concerned about the negative impact Government regulation of the e-cigarette market could have on her existing business on Cartergate. The shop, Spellbound, opened within the Ecigs shop two weeks ago.It features two mannequins showing off lingerie downstairs among the Ecig goods along with cabinets containing condoms and lubricants. There are two cabinets containing sex toys upstairs. “I was upset and very angry that Mark could be treated in that way when it really was nothing to do with him,” Miss Sullivan said. “We are a couple but we had our own business interests and our own incomes. It is ridiculous to suggest there was any link between the school and the sex industry. Some of the stock is available in pound shops. It is an Ecigs store with sex toys upstairs. There’s no hard core. The shop isn’t offending anyone. I could understand if the window was full of bondage gear and whips. If you pass it you wouldn’t know it sells anything other than Ecigs and, because it’s an Ecigs business, you have to be 18 to even come in.”

Miss Sullivan said the situation got so bad she took her daughter out of the Mount school where she had been a happy pupil. Mr Moody added: “The reason I didn’t get approval from the head immediately was not because I had anything to hide, but because at that stage it was an idea and Emma didn’t know whether she’d need specific permission from Newark and Sherwood District Council. We thought she should probably find out first so we knew whether Emma could even do it. It wasn’t my business. I had an interview with the head in which it was said there would be a few adult-themed items but mainly lingerie and there didn’t seem to be a problem, provided it wasn’t widely advertised. The parents seemed okay about it to start with and HR were contacted and replied to say that there shouldn’t be a problem if guidelines were followed.” Sandra Bunnell, head at the Mount school, said: “A number of parents complained to the school following the publication of Facebook pictures. This prompted an immediate suspension while an internal investigation was carried out. A disciplinary hearing was set for February 12 of which governors and HR officials were informed. Before the internal investigation could be completed Mr Moody resigned from his post.”

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