A Quran teacher from Oldham has been jailed for sexually assaulting three female pupils under the age of 14.
Manchester Crown Court sentenced Liaqat Mahmood to five-and-a-half years in prison for abusing the girls during after-school classes in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The court heard how the 48-year-old teacher touched his victims during the classes before sexually assaulting them.
The three victims were under the age of 14 when the abuse started.
Mahmood moved to the UK from Pakistan in the 1990s, and because he was a teacher of the Quran, parents in the local community asked him to teach their children.
He started taking classes of up to 20 children, and it was said that he “began to show an unhealthy interest in two of his young pupils”.
One of the victims submitted an impact statement, in which she said she did not report the abuse at the time because Mahmood was a respected member of the community, as well as a friend of her father’s, and she feared that no one would believe her.
She said the abuse had devastating long-term effects on her, making it difficult for her to trust people, and has also caused her to struggle with her faith as the background to the abuse was being taught the Quran.
Detective Constable Javed Iqbal said: “Mahmood’s behaviour was utterly despicable, taking advantage of young children he was supposed to care for and who had put their trust in him.
“I would like to thank the victims for the incredible bravery they showed in coming forward… I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to relive the trauma they faced at this man’s hands.”
Judge Timothy Mort said: “The families trusted you with their children, and you abused that trust very badly. This was very serious behaviour by you.
“These girls were presented to you for instruction in the Quran by their parents who trusted you, and you abused that trust absolutely with lasting effects.”