SEXUALLY MANIPULATED TEEN SAYS WATCH FOR THIS RED FLAG
KAMLOOPS — Chanelle Petrie hopes sharing her story of being preyed upon by her former hockey coach will show others how to avoid the seduction.
After years of counselling, police statements and court hearings, Petrie, 18, is finally awaiting sentencing for Heidi Ferber, the woman she once looked up to.
Ferber, 42, pleaded guilty in Kamloops Supreme Court to numerous charges from her relationship with the teen three years ago.
Petrie was only 15 at the time and had the opportunity to remain anonymous with court protection. But last week, Petrie and her family took the unusual step of asking a judge to lift a publication ban on her identity. She wants others to know they don't have to be afraid.
“I absolutely had the sense that there were others,” Petrie says, and since going public, another girl has already reached out to her. “A lot of the reasons people don’t come forward is because they are ashamed and feel like it is their fault, but it is not their fault.”
Petrie already knows telling that first person is the hardest part, but also the most important first step.
“To be honest I didn’t want to (go to my parents), my councillor made me,” she said. “It was hard. They were in shock, but they were really supportive.”
She recalls it beginning slowly, with questions about her own sexuality. Then a kiss, then more but most importantly, she says, was the secrecy. It made her available to Ferber at all times—at practice, at games, in team hotel rooms. Under that secrecy, Ferber was welcomed into Petrie's home where that trust was violated again.
Looking back, Petrie says secrecy and the growing isolation should be a red flag for anyone in a relationship.
“Even though you feel like you can’t talk to someone, you really can. Try to reach out to someone and tell them what you are going through, and if they try to help, don’t push them away.”
While she is anxious to know what Judge Hope Hyslop will decide, she knows that it will not take back what happened.
“No time will ever really do (it) justice," she says. "I just hope (the sentencing) is the right amount."
Crown lawyer Don Mann is pushing for nine to 12 months in prison, while the defence has recommended between 90 days and six months in jail, to be served on weekends. The judge is expected decide April 2.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Cavelle Layes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-319-7494.