Acquitted after sex with pupil

5th January 2001 at 00:00
Canada

A JURY in St Paul, Alberta, took just 45 minutes to acquit former teacher Jocelyn Jester of sexual exploitation of a student in her school.

The case - one of only two in Canada in the past few years involving women teachers and male students - turned on the question of whether Ms Jester was in a position of authority over the 17-year-old student, who cannot be named.

Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg argued that even though she was not his teacher, as a teaching member of the staff who could discipline him, she did hold a position of trust.

In an earlier case, teacher Heather Ingram, also of British Columbia, received a 10-month conditional sentence, even though the student's parents testified for the couple, saying they supported the relationship.

The jury's verdict indicates that it accepted defence lawyer Bob Aloneissi's case. He argued that 25-year-old Ms Jester was not in a position of trust and that the student turned against Ms Jester after the reltionship had broken up.

According to Susan Lyman, a former criminal lawyer now specialising in family law in Edmonton, Alberta, the two cases indicate a double standard.

"If we were to reverse the positions of the players, the verdict and the public reception of it would be much different.

When a male is seduced by an older woman, who is seemingly in a position of authority, people say 'Gee, lucky kid. Why couldn't that have happened to me?'."

"If it were a female who had been seduced by, or who had seduced an older male, then it's a horrible thing."

The affair, which resulted in a pregnancy that miscarried, lasted four months. It began with Ms Jester handing the 17-year-old a note inviting him out. It then led onto love-making in her apartment and two out-of-town trips.

The affair cost Ms Jester her marriage and her teaching licence.

The youth is now suing her, the school's former principal and the school board for $150,000 in damages.


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