A PAEDOPHILE who preyed on pupils at a school near York showed "utter arrogance" and "contempt" towards his victims, police have said. 

They have praised the 20 victims of Alexander Charles Ralls, 47, for their courage in speaking out about what he did to them while working at Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate.

He is now starting 16 years in prison for abusing 20 children. 

Three people have won judge's commendations for their role in bringing Ralls to justice. 

“This was a complex and disturbing case where Ralls as a person in a position of trust, used his role to coerce and influence the young people he should have been caring for into a vulnerable position, which he then exploited for his own sexual gratification," said  Detective Constable Suzanne Hall, from the North Yorkshire Police Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team.

“The extent of his offending was staggering and the fact that he continued to use the same excuse of providing medical care to carry out his sickening actions, shows his utter arrogance towards and contempt of his victims.

"Not once has he taken any responsibility for his actions, pleading not guilty to all the charges, meaning his victims had to face a gruelling seven-week court process.

“I’d like to thank the victims for their enormous bravery in coming forward and giving their accounts. I know how difficult and traumatic that was for them. I hope the sentence handed to Ralls today helps them move on from such an upsetting period in their lives.

“I hope the sentence also gives other victims of non-recent abuse confidence to come forward and seek help and support. It doesn’t matter how long ago you may have experienced abuse, we understand the damaging effects it can have and that people can feel those effects throughout their life.

“If you choose to report the incident to police, we will listen and believe you and we will do everything we can to put those responsible in front of the courts.”

DC Hall was among three people commended by Judge Kirstie Watson for their part in bringing Ralls to justice.  The other two were Lorna Bowling of Witness Care, who helped the complainants deal with the court process and lawyer Samantha Davidson of  the CPS.