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I was far too naive at the time to recognize her lies and manipulation.” The judge agreed: “The court is convinced that the accused used the victim to satisfy her own sexual needs, thus exploiting the victim’s naïveté, his lack of maturity, his dependence and his trust.” Canadian law is clear that a minimum jail sentence must occur in sexual charges involving children, meaning those under age 16, the age of consent; when an adult is in a position of authority or trust, however, that age rises to 18. Sentencing in the Pontbriand case, as well as the two-year prison term given former Calgary school teacher Jennifer Mason in July for sexually exploiting a 16-year-old, recognize the severity of the crime. In April, Kim Gervais, a 37-year-old former elementary school teacher in Timmins, Ont., was given seven months in jail and two years of probation for “abhorrent” breach of trust after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual interference and one count of inviting for a sexual purpose involving four male students who were 12 and 13 at the time. In March, 59-year-old Deborah Marion Ralph, a former Langley, B.
Yet a cultural double standard persists in attitudes toward and legal treatment of male and female teachers who sexually exploit students. C., elementary school teacher, avoided jail after pleading guilty to sexual interference with a student who was 11 when a three-year relationship began in 1998; Ralph was 44.
The Crown called for three years incarceration for “egregious breach of trust.” Ralph received 18 months house arrest, six months curfew and community service.
She gained the trust of the teenager, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, when they exchanged intimate details during a 2002 school cycling trip.
He described the pain he felt after his parents’ divorce; she told him her marriage was a mistake.
When the student returned home, he told his mother he had a “new best friend.” Pontbriand initiated sex with the boy soon after on a private trip approved by his mother to help him with his problems; it was the ﬁrst of some 300 sexual liaisons that took place on school trips, private getaways, at his home and her home.The teacher bought the boy a cellphone after his mother tried to shut down communication between the two.Evidence shown to the court included coded messages left in the student’s locker and gifts such as the engraved dog tags the teacher gave the student after their ﬁrst sexual encounter: “BFF. 19-05-02.” In a written statement, the student stated that Pontbriand ended it after he entered CEGEP, saying she’d met someone new.He went to police in 2007 after being expelled; later he claimed the relationship left him depressed and suicidal.The victim, now in his 20s, said a psychiatrist helped him understand he’d missed out on normal dating rituals.Pontbriand, now a mother of two, alienated him from family and friends, he said, “so as to satisfy her own egotistic and sexual desires.