A TEACHER broke down in court as she denied seducing one of her pupils and accused the former student of lying.
Caroline French also defended herself against allegations she was gay as she took the stand at Preston Crown Court.
French, who taught drama at a Blackpool high school, has pleaded not guilty to three charges of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child.
And yesterday the 38-year-old strongly denied seducing the young girl.
She told the jury: “I didn’t have a sexual relationship at any time with (her). I didn’t take her home and I didn’t groom her.
“(She’s lying) because I turned her down and told her to get lost.”
But French, who used to live on St David’s Road North, St Annes, admitted she had cared for the girl – along with all the other pupils in her form.
She added: “You can’t help but care about students in your care, especially if you’re a form tutor and you see them every day for five years.
“I think all the parents I’ve been in contact with have not expressed any concern about the fact I care about my students.
“She had family problems. I didn’t exploit her, I tried to help her.”
The trial began last Monday and the court has heard evidence from one of French’s former colleagues who suspected their relationship was not purely platonic.
The court has also heard from another staff member who saw the girl, now 22, at French’s house.
French disputes the evidence given by them, and claims another former pupil, who moved into the teacher’s home aged 16, was never more than a friend.
The girl stayed with French for three years.
She added: “My heart went out to her, her mum didn’t want her and she didn’t have anywhere else to go.
“It was not a relationship, it was not a sexual relationship, she was part of my family.
“She wanted to be part of my family.
“She started off as a lodger but she became part of my family. I was actually quite honoured she thought that highly of me.”
French, who now lives on Ashtree Close, Darlington, added: “I’m not gay.
“I never concealed any of my relationships. I didn’t have a relationship with (the alleged victim) and I couldn’t conceal it. This is my life, I’m not playing a part.”