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Judge hands down 20-month sentence for former teacher

Historical allegations of sexual assault are taken very seriously by Canadian courts. If the accused individual was in a position of authority at the time of an alleged offence, then the Crown may seek particularly harsh penalties in an effort to send a message to the community.

A former high school teacher in Quebec was recently sentenced to 20 months in jail after being found guilty of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student. The relationship allegedly started in 2002 and lasted two years.

Specifically, the former teacher was charged with two counts of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual assault. At trial, the woman denied that she had a sexual relationship with the young man, and a number of witnesses testified in support of her.

However, early this year, the former teacher was found guilty after DNA evidence taken from a sleeping bag indicated the presence of her bodily fluids and those of the former student.

At a recent sentencing hearing, the woman's defence argued for a suspended sentence because jail time would result in hardship for the woman's two young children.

In turn, the Crown asked for a jail sentence, particularly because the former teacher was in a position of authority. The judge handed down an 18-month jail sentence for the two counts of sexual exploitation, along with a 20-month sentence for the one count of sexual assault. The two sentences will be served concurrently. The judge also ordered two years of probation following the woman's release.

Sexual assault allegations arise from a vast array of circumstances, and the available facts of every case must be carefully considered to protect the rights of the accused. The potential penalties upon conviction can change a person's life forever. To protect their rights now and in the future, accused individuals should immediately begin mounting a strong criminal defence.

Source: CTV News, "Former Quebec teacher gets 20-month sentence for sexually assaulting student," Andre Janus, Aug. 29, 2014