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HE LOVES ME .. I LOVE HIM; What runaway told jury about teacher.

A SCHOOLGIRL who ran away with her teacher yesterday vowed to stand by him and told a court: "I love him. He loves me."

Besotted Rachel Russell, 15, fled to London with 32-year-old Mick Edson as their six-month relationship was about to be exposed.

The pair were on the run for four days before Edson, a chemistry teacher, gave himself up to police.

He smiled as Rachel, now 16, described their love to a jury at his trial for abduction and indecent assault.

She said: "We were past just being friends but only kissed and cuddled. He could have been jailed for anything more.

"We discussed sex but decided not to until I was old enough. I'm going to wait for him. He has already said he will wait for me as well."

Their romance began after Rachel began staying at Edson's house to babysit his five-year-old daughter, who he looked after every other weekend. Edson, who taught Rachel at Wyke Manor School, in Bradford, West Yorks, is charged with abduction by taking her out of the control and against the will of her father, Robert.

He is also accused of indecent assault by stroking Rachel's stomach and legs while sitting on a sofa in front of her mother, June. He denies the charges.

Michael Pearson, prosecuting at Bradford Crown Court, said: "Assault does not have to be of violent nature. Here was a 31-year-old teacher stroking a 15-year-old pupil. We say that's offensive and indecent."

Edson insists he fled with Rachel last October to "finance her safety" because she was going to run away from home after her father threatened to report him to police and education chiefs.

He had admitted their affair to Mr Russell days earlier. A colleague had also discovered Rachel was staying overnight with Edson and told his headmaster.

In an interview videoed after the couple gave themselves up, Rachel said: "It was coming out . . we knew it was coming out.

"Everyone was getting right suspicious. I wasn't going to bother staying around."

She phoned Edson at his home in Scholes, near Bradford, to tell him she was leaving home and he said he would join her.

They took a coach to London and stayed in a bed and breakfast near near Paddington.

Rachel, who wears an engagement ring given to her by Edson last summer, said: "It was a family room with a double bed and two singles.

"For two nights, I slept in a single bed and he slept in the double."

Rachel, who lives with friends and is training to be a nursery nurse, was asked if Edson had harmed her or had sex with her. She said: "No."

The case continues.
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Author:Dennis, Steve
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 18, 1999
Words:450
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