Ex-teacher gets six months for sexual assault of boy, 13
National Post, Ottawa Citizen, by Brendan Kennedy, Canwest News Service, Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Former Ingleside, Ont., teacher Jennifer Dorland, 42, was found guilty of sexual impropriety with a 13-year-old former student in 2004.
CORNWALL, Ont. -- A former Cornwall junior high school teacher who sexually assaulted one of her 13-year-old male students was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail.
Jennifer Dorland, 42, who is now known as Jennifer Toews, was found guilty of sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching on Dec. 20, 2007.
The trial heard evidence that the former Grade 7 and 8 teacher had a sexual encounter with one of her former students, during which they kissed and fondled each other on a couch in Dorland's basement in September 2004. In spite of her convictions, Dorland, who has no prior criminal record, has maintained her innocence.
Justice Julie-Ann Parfett also sentenced Dorland to two years' probation, the conditions of which require Dorland to register as a sex offender, have no communication with the victim or his family, not come within 500 metres of the victim's home, place of work or school, not be alone with anyone under the age of 16 -- with the exception of her own children -- without another adult present and continue to attend counselling.
The father of the victim, whose name is subject to a publication ban, said he was satisfied with the sentence.
"Justice has been served. It's been three years coming, but justice has been served," he said, declining further comment.
Dorland's defence had been seeking a conditional sentence, the majority of which could be served under house arrest, citing a psychological assessment that showed Dorland is not a pedophile, is not likely to re-offend and was "emotionally vulnerable" when the sexual encounter occurred as a result of her failing marriage.
Crown prosecutors were asking for a sentence of at least 15 months.
In her sentencing decision, Parfett said she accepted the assessment by Dr. Paul Fedoroff, but it did not justify a conditional sentence. "While her psychological state may explain (her actions), it does not excuse it," she said.
Parfett said the fact that the charges against Dorland were based on a single incident and that she has "already paid a heavy price" in terms of loss of employment and reputation factored into her sentencing decision.
Parfett said she agreed with the Crown that no exceptional circumstances existed to merit a conditional sentence and that the jail sentence reflects the severity of the breach of trust between student and teacher.
"She stepped over a line -- a line drawn in concrete."
When Parfett delivered her sentence, Dorland, her hair shorter and greyer than when she last appeared in court, stood solemnly and quietly cried.
Dorland did not make eye contact with the victim's family.
Dorland's lawyer refused to comment after the hearing.
The Ontario College of Teachers revoked Dorland's teaching licence in May when a three-member disciplinary panel found that her actions "betrayed the trust of students, parents and the public."
Meanwhile, Dorland and the Upper Canada District School Board are named in a lawsuit filed by the student's family in Ottawa court.
The lawsuit, which was filed in January, seeks $300,000 in general damages for the student and $50,000 each for his mother, father and brother.
The family claims the student has developed severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of confidence and self-esteem and chronic problems with assertiveness and feelings of powerlessness.