April 02, 2014 - 6:31 PM
'WE GOT WHAT WE ASKED FOR'
KAMLOOPS - A hockey coach convicted of sexual interference and sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old player was sentenced today to 12 months in jail.
Kamloops Supreme Court Justice Hope Hyslop said Heidi Ferber, 43, “pursued (Chanelle) Petrie under the guise of their mutual interest in hockey" and took advantage of anyone who trusted her with Petrie.
Ferber, supported in court by friends and family, made an emotional statement before she was led out of the courtroom in custody.
“I wish that I could do something to make everything better,” she said between sobs. “I’m just very sorry to everyone (who) was affected by my bad judgment... I regret what I've done.”
Following her release, Ferber will be on probation for 18 months and must have no contact with Petrie or be alone with anyone under the age of 16. She can't hold a position of trust with anyone under the age of 16 and must register as a sex offender for 20 years.
Four years ago, Ferber was an assistant coach with the Hellcats girls hockey team when she developed a lengthy sexual relationship with Petrie, 24 years her junior. She was close with Petrie’s family and considered like a family member.
Earlier today, Hyslop denied Crown prosecutor Donald Mann's attempt to introduce new information of another relationship Ferber had with a minor. Although the relationship was not sexual, Mann said the information could challenge Ferber's claims at a prior hearing that her relationship with Petrie was uncharacteristic, the product of a rough time in her life.
Now 18 years old, Petrie flew in from Calgary for the hearing, supported by her sister. Petrie said she was relieved Ferber got the year in prison suggested by the Crown.
“We got what we asked for,” Petrie said.
She admitted to “a mixture of feelings” watching Ferber taken away to prison, but was relieved she would “never have to see her again.”
Earlier, the court heard Petrie felt she was in love with her coach and Ferber once suggested marriage. Ferber knew the relationship was inappropriate and asked Petrie not to tell her parents or she would be in a lot of trouble. Ferber’s defence lawyer Michelle Stanford said Ferber's past concussions, epilepsy, taking anti-depressants, and other health issues led to her poor judgment.
Unlike many complainants in similar cases, Petrie has opened up to media about the events. She asked Hyslop to remove a publication ban on her name, allowing her to go public, saying other girls might be out there. She said Ferber made the relationship seem like it was okay, until a counsellor suggested she tell her parents and realized it was not okay. Petrie said she has been emotionally damaged by the relationship and the experience robbed her of her youth.
“Now I feel good, but I think that my attempted suicide is one of the reasons why I decided to speak out,“ Petrie said.
She will continue to live in Calgary where she attends post-secondary school and doesn’t plan to return to Kamloops.
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— This story was edited at 6:30 p.m. to include new information from sentencing. An earlier version focussed on attempts by a prosecutor to introduce new information before sentencing.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014