'Not a Hallmark Channel love story:' West Kelowna teacher being sentenced for sexually exploiting student | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Not a Hallmark Channel love story:' West Kelowna teacher being sentenced for sexually exploiting student

Kelowna Law Courts

The student West Kelowna teacher Bradley Furman sexually exploited was initially groomed over texts and video game chats during the 2018 spring break, the court heard during his Monday sentencing hearing.

When school was back in session they met up in Furman’s classroom and house, having sex at least 10 times before being caught.

Even then, and again after being arrested four times for breaching bail conditions, Furman continued the relationship in both surreptitious communications and clandestine hook-ups that the girl once told the court she believed were an act of love.

“It was a calculated, deliberate attack on (the girl) for his own sexual gratification,” Crown counsel David Grabavac told Provincial Court Judge Clarke Burnett, before asking for 71 months — nearly six years — in prison less 167 days for time served.

“This was not a Hallmark Channel love story, it was a shocking and devastating crime. He knew she was vulnerable before he entered the relationship, he psychologically coerced her into a relationship that  became sexual.”

When the relationship began, Furman, then 28, was the teacher of the then-17-year-old girl and they started speaking during spring break in the 2017-2018 school year about, among other things, Dungeons and Dragons and Furman’s marital issues. Furman said he thought the young woman was beautiful and how she was “his favourite student,” Grabavac told the court.

Texts of a more sexual nature emerged as the conversations continued and Furman eventually asked the girl for a nude photo. The exact nature of the messages have been sealed for the duration of the hearing, at Crown’s requests.

Then Furman and the girl embarked on a physical relationship that was uncovered May 1, 2018 after Furman called the girl out of two classes with other teachers, which caused his peers to bring the matter to the school administration.

Mount Boucherie Secondary school’s principal and and vice principal watched video of Furman pulling the student from class and noted that they were “too close.” They then called Furman and the girl in for a conversation to talk about their relationship.

The girl told the principal she was involved in gaming and she spoke with Furman over a related social media app. The principal saw the content of the messages and quickly determined the relationship was of a sexual nature.

She told the principal their spring break texting “snowballed into” to sexting, touching and kissing, first at his house and then at his portable classroom.

In another room at the school, Furman was also being spoken to. He was asked to share his communications and stop contact with the girl. He didn’t show the messages but assured the people he was speaking to that he would keep them secure.

He didn’t.

Grabavac told the court that there’s evidence that Furman instead asked the girl to delete all of their conversations on various apps. Whether she acquiesced is unclear, but somehow hundreds of pages of conversations collected by investigators offer some of the evidence that their relationship continued.

Furman was arrested four times for carrying on the relationship and, despite being released on conditions that he would stay away from the girl, he chose not to.

“He continued a regular pattern over 13 months of blatant breaches of orders,” Grabavac said. “He appeared in front of four judges, promised to do things four times and didn’t do them.”

The girl initially went along with it, staying up all hours and taking part in schemes that would allow the relationship to continue and it took a toll on her.

“Because I was so invested in him and he would make me promises… I thought I loved him and was prepared to do anything he needed,” the girl said in her victim impact statement, which was read in court.

With Furman as her main focus, she damaged relationships with her family, continually lying to them and she stopped leaving her house, which eroded friendships.

Her college marks suffered while she turned focus solely onto Furman and his ongoing issues and she became depressed and had suicidal thoughts and tendencies. She also started cutting herself and has multiple scars.

She had a turn around in October 2019 and her myopic focus on Furman was changed, though she's not quite recovered from the situation.

“Because I thought I was being used and I was losing my family and friends... I thought I was a bad daughter… the only thing that kept me here was my family…  on the off chance they still loved me and still wanted me around,” she wrote.

She wrote a letter to Furman who she said she won’t speak to again and it was read in court.

“I hope you are satisfied with the impact you had on my life. Your life is screwed... you have had a hold on me throughout the year, (but) your hold is no more,” she wrote.

“Maybe, in time, I will forgive you. For now I hate you. Don’t you even think about contacting me when this is over. I have family who support me so I don’t need the absolute mess that is your life in my life. You are a sick twisted human.”

Grabavac also read statements from Furman's peers, the girl's family and the administration. All of them explain that this exploitation didn't just affect the girl. He's also undermined the local school system, casting a pall on its operations.

Throughout it all, Furman sat still, staring forward.

Furman was originally charged with sexual assault, two counts of sexual exploitation of a young person, luring a child and attempting to pervert justice, stemming from incidents last summer. As part of a plea deal, the Crown agreed to drop several of the charges in exchange for his guilty pleas on the sexual exploitation, attempting to pervert justice and three breach charges.

The hearing continues.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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