In August, Quebec Justice Valmont Beaulieu stated the obvious when he addressed the double standard in the treatment of teachers who have sex with students: “The sexual exploitation of a male adolescent by a female teacher must be punished just the same as a male posing the same actions toward a female adolescent,” he said before sentencing Tania Pontbriand to 20- and 18-month jail terms to be served concurrently, plus two years probation.
The former high school gym teacher from Rosemère, Que., had been found guilty of sexual exploitation and sexual assault of a male student with whom she had a two-year relationship. Its details, by turns tawdry and disturbing, revealed how the then 30-year-old Pontbriand acted as mentor, conﬁdante and sexual aggressor to the 15-year-old.
Cortoni hasn’t studied female teachers specifically, she says: “I haven’t been able to get data.” Canada’s national sex-offender registry doesn’t provide gender breakdown for “privacy reasons.” A recent freedom of information search in Wales, however, showed female sex offenders in that part of Britain were the fastest growing category, more than doubling from 78 in 2009 to 193 in 2012 (the number of male sex offenders rose 67.5 per cent from 3,655 to 6,122).
We’re just beginning to understand sexual abuse by female teachers and its consequences, says Shoop, who calls it “abhorrent behaviour that’s epidemic.” People don’t appreciate how frequently it occurs, he says: “The conversation is probably where the abuse of children by priests was 10 years ago.” The sensationalized template for the female-teacher-and-male-student relationship remains mired in the decades-old spectacle of California teacher Mary Kay Le Tourneau, a married 34-year-old mother of four who was jailed in 1997 for second-degree rape of her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau.
The unspoken assumption among researchers is that cases involving teachers are under-reported, says Cortoni.
It’s believed boys self-disclose more than girls while the relationship is ongoing, says Shoop—“they’re pretty excited and proud of it.” Still, generally only ﬁve to 15 per cent of people who are abused ever tell anybody, he says. provide disciplinary actions online but other provinces, including those in the Maritimes, do not.
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.
“She doesn’t appear to have any insight into the harm she has caused.” Justice Selwyn Romilly was sympathetic to Ralph, concluding the grandmother didn’t pose a danger to the community and shows “considerable remorse.” When a male is a victim of a female, society doesn’t take it as seriously, says Robert Shoop, a professor of education law at Kansas State University and an internationally recognized expert on sexual harassment and abuse prevention in schools.A male having sex with a minor child is recognized as a horror, which of course it is, he says.“But in cases where a female had sex with a minor boy, there have been many examples of judges saying, ‘Where’s the harm here?He bragged to his friends about it, how could he be hurt?’ ” Judges tend to reﬂect community values, says Shoop, and generally [in the U. One of those values, he says, is that women are powerless and need to be protected from sex-addled males, whatever their age.