Former Whitsunday Anglican School teacher and assistant chaplain Chris Firman leaves Mackay Courthouse yesterday.
Former Whitsunday Anglican School teacher and assistant chaplain Chris Firman leaves Mackay Courthouse yesterday. Peter Holt

Chaplain took nude pics of student

CHRIS Firman was an assistant chaplain and teacher at the Whitsunday Anglican School when he took nude photos of a 15-year-old female student.

He befriended the troubled teenager, showed her semi-nude pictures of women in two photo albums at his home, and raised the issue of nudity with her.

“He said Adam and Eve in the Bible were naked and we were not supposed to be worried about it and it wasn’t something to be ashamed of,” the girl told the District Court in Mackay yesterday.

The nude photo session happened at a Black’s Beach residence in late 1999 and a complaint was not made to authorities by the girl, now aged 26, until Firman wrote her a letter in February 2004.

Christopher Edward Firman, a teacher who now lives and works in Perth, pleaded not guilty to four charges of taking indecent photos of a girl under 16 and burglary in Mackay in 1999.

The girl testified yesterday that she became very close to Firman and in addition to their school time together she would visit him after school, sometimes three or four times a week.

She agreed to allow him to take the photos.

“I don’t know how or why, but I came around to the idea,” she said.

“I was there and it wasn’t against my will.”

The Crown case is that in 2004 Firman wrote a five-page letter to the girl in which he alleged there had been a campaign of innuendo and rumour against him at the school, he had been scarred by it, and that he had been suicidal.

He claimed in the letter that he took the pictures for two reasons: Because he had a talent for taking photos; and secondly, because each person he had photographed over 20 years had given him a huge and wonderful gift, their trust.

He told her in the letter: “You made yourself vulnerable to me and trusted that I would do you no harm.”

He told the girl she had been “important for my survival” while in Mackay.

The letter also made reference to “a field day for lawyers” after which Firman allegedly wrote: “My life and my work are once again in your hands”.

The girl testified that: “By then I’d realised that what I’d done was wrong ... I couldn’t live with knowing that he might be doing this to someone else.”

So she notified the Anglican Church and authorities.

The burglary charge involves an allegation that Firman entered another Whitsunday Anglican School teacher’s private residence without their consent to use it as a place to take the photos.

Under cross examination the girl agreed that Firman never touched her and never talked about sex or sexual activity. She also agreed that she had mentioned the photos to a youth leader.

The Crown case is that one of the photos, out of a possible four rolls of photos, was found at Firman’s address in Perth. It allegedly shows the girl wearing a see-through top with her breasts visible.

Crown prosecutor Brendan Manttan told the jury of eight women and four men that the issue on trial was whether the taking of the photos was indecent considering the girl’s age and the fact that Firman was her teacher and an assistant chaplain.

The court heard that Firman worked at the school in 1998 and 1999, after which his employment contract was not renewed.

The trial continues today.

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