A former music teacher has been jailed for having a sexual relationship with a student, which an Adelaide District Court judge described as an “appalling breach of trust”.

Key points:

  • Matthew John Freeborn has been jailed for having a sexual relationship with a student
  • Judge Joanne Tracey said Freeborn tried to blame his victim for the relationship
  • Freeborn issued an apology to the student and his family

Matthew John Freeborn, 45, was sentenced to four-years-and-two-months’ jail with a non-parole period of two years and four months for having a sex with a student at a Fleurieu Peninsula school over a seven-month period.

Freeborn read a letter to the court ahead of the sentence, apologising for his behaviour.

“I offer my profound apologies for my gross dereliction of my duties as a teacher,” he told the court.

“I failed to see my actions for what they were — an illegal relationship with a vulnerable student in my care.

“Although I know the difference between right and wrong, I chose a course that had grave consequences.

“I acknowledge and apologise for the pain and suffering I have caused her — I sincerely hope in time that she’s able to recover from the emotional scars of this traumatic period and she finds happiness.”

He also apologised to his former employer, ex-wife, current partner and children.

Judge scathing of teacher’s conduct

During sentencing, Judge Joanne Tracey said Freeborn tried to blame his victim for the relationship.

She said he told a psychologist that his former student was confident, highly intelligent, mature and had a “supermodel-like appearance” before describing himself as naive and overwhelmed.

Judge Joanne Tracey said Freeborn abused his position of power over his student.(

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“You said your conduct was not predatory because it was a relationship of love and affection … and you didn’t force her to do anything against her wishes,” she said.

“You were a teacher in a position of authority — the strength of your position is what made you attractive to her.”

Judge Tracey said Freeborn lent his victim a book which had “graphic sex scenes” in it and explored the theme of a teacher-student sexual relationship.

She said he then suggested she start playing an online game about advanced music theory, which was how the pair started communicating outside of the classroom.

“She believed you loved her and had her best interests at heart,” she said.

“The shame she has carried for so long is not hers to carry. This was an appalling breach of trust.”

Judge Tracey said the offending was “very serious”, but she took into account that Freeborn had no previous convictions, and the student was nearing the end of her schooling when the relationship started.

Freeborn will be eligible to apply for parole in June 2023.