A former teacher told a girl's parents she needed extra help at school as a ruse to allow him to groom her for sexual abuse, a court has heard.
Bernard Haunch, 72, is alleged to have subjected the girl to repeated sex attacks while he was a "senior and respected" teacher at a rural school.
At the small school in West Sussex, French teacher Haunch conducted abuse on the girl and a boy in the 1970s and 1980s, breaching the trust placed in him, Lewes Crown Court heard.
Opening the Crown's case, prosecutor Richard Barton said the girl kept the abuse secret for decades until finally disclosing it to relatives two years ago.
He said: "It's the Crown's case that throughout his adult life, he has been a paedophile and that he used his position as a teacher to have sexual contact with young pre-pubescent children."
The grooming process began after Haunch, of Marlins Close, Sutton, south London, told the girl's mother she needed extra help with her schooling, it was said.
Mr Barton said: "It's the Crown's case that this was a lie that he used as a ruse to allow him to take the girl up to his room so she was able to repeatedly visit him on her own.
"It's the Crown's case that at no stage did he give her extra tuition. Instead, over the months and years, he gradually groomed her."
Haunch offered praise, threats and rewards to the girl, who cannot be named, and at one point threatened to kill her parents if she ever disclosed what had happened, jurors heard.
Haunch denies 16 offences, including rape and indecent assault between June 1975 and September 1983.