THE house father at a school for emotionally disturbed children was

jailed for five years yesterday for sexually abusing five girls

entrusted to his care.

Adrian Batty's offences, which took place some years ago, came to

light only last year when one of his victims, now a mother, felt

something had to be done in case other children were at risk.

Batty, 42, of Beechway, Forres, Moray, was convicted after trial at

Dingwall Sheriff Court of five indecency charges against the girls, aged

between 13 and 16, at the school in the Highlands.

Sheriff David Crowe felt that his sentencing powers were inadequate

and sent the case to the High Court in Edinburgh for sentence. He also

criticised the school for being ''naive'' in employing an unqualified

man and allowing him to supervise young girls overnight.

Mrs Valerie Stacey, Advocate-depute, told Lord Ross, the Lord Justice

Clerk, that Batty was a first offender. The offences were all committed

at the residential school which took children with emotional problems,

including victims of sexual abuse.

Batty frequently went into the girls' bedrooms, ostensibly to read

them stories, then interfered with them.

For a variety of reasons, none of the victims reported what had

happened to them at the time. For example, one girl had been sexually

abused at home before she was sent to the school and thought that no-one

would believe her if she reported Batty. She had suffered years of

no-one believing her.

After the five-year sentence, a spokesman for the school said that

changes in the school's management systems meant that the likelihood of

this kind of incident happening again was ''greatly minimised''.

In particular, night cover arrangements had been expanded to the

satisfaction of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools.