In November and December of 2019, the Ontario Superior Court heard the case of a 16-year-old girl who had been sexually assaulted by her band teacher. The incidents occurred between March and June of 1983. The teacher had taken on a mentor, confidant and counsellor role for the student. She frequently met with him to confide in him about personal and family problems she was dealing with and she really liked him since he was a caring listener and very supportive.
During the march break of that school year, the band took a school trip to New York City and that is when the first incidents occurred. He touched her body in inappropriate ways once caressing her calf and another time during a bus ride she woke up to him rubbing her foot. Once they arrived back at the school he offered to drive her and 2 other students home and she accepted. He dropped off the 2 other students first and she had fallen asleep during the drive. She woke up when the car stopped. She had no idea where she was, and he began kissing and removing her clothes. He then walked around to the passenger side where he removed his clothes and got in the passenger seat and pulled her on top of him and he tried to penetrate her vaginally and asked for oral sex. She was so scared that she said and did nothing and then he sodomized her. He then dropped her off at home, but her parents were asleep, so she had no one to tell.
When she returned to class he acted like nothing had happened, so she decided to block out the incident and resumed their student-teacher relationship. After that incident, multiple other incidents of sodomy and fellatio occurred all on school premises. She began to ignore and avoid him and since it was near the end of the school year, she no longer had contact with him. The following school year she took extra steps to avoid contact with him such as no longer taking band or music classes.
As a result of the assaults, she suffers from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She began to self-harm and suffers from suicidal ideations. Following the assaults, her grades dropped and she failed grade twelve. She, later on, went back to finish high school but never went to university. Shortly after the assault she got involved with and married a physically and mentally abusive man. The man had many similarities to her abuser he was around the same age and worked in the same profession. Her doctors believe that her earlier sexual abuse influenced her choice of partner and is partially to blame for the toxic relationship she was involved in.
The School board was held responsible for the assaults
Over 35 years after the assault the woman filed a lawsuit against both the teacher and Trillium Lakelands District school board to recover compensation for the suffering she experienced. On June 30th, 2020 the judge ruled that both the teacher and the school board were liable for the damage done to the girl. The teacher was found liable for damages from the sexual assault and battery.
The judge found the school board was negligent and vicariously liable for the damage that resulted from the assault. The school had accepted and approved of teacher-student transport which allowed an opportunity for the abuse. Furthermore, the school permitted in-office individual music tests which gave the teacher another opportunity to sexually abuse her. The school board had fostered an environment in which sexual abuse could happen and go undetected.
Further discoveries found the school board was negligent in dealing with the situation once it was brought to their attention. During the case, it was revealed that in the new school year multiple teachers were worried about the student after noticing she went from a happy and involved individual to withdrawn. After a few visits with the guidance counsellor, she opened up and revealed the sexual abuse she had experienced. The guidance counsellor informed his superior who reported it to the principal. The principal did not contact the police or tell her parents.
The principal and vice-principal had a meeting with the teacher on March 29th, 1984, and asked for his resignation. On April 30th, 1984 the teacher’s lawyers and the school board reached a settlement, and the teacher was made to resign at the end of the school year. The school seriously failed to protect the student and support her.
The woman was awarded a total of $641,474 in her lawsuit. She was awarded $300,000 for general and aggravated damages. The judge awarded an additional $200,000 for loss of competitive advantage, $4,122 for past expenses and $37,352 for future care expenses. The teacher was ordered to pay an additional $100,000 in punitive damages as punishment for his actions.