Shuswap guidance counsellor found not guilty of sexually assaulting student | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Shuswap guidance counsellor found not guilty of sexually assaulting student

November 27, 2018 - 12:23 PM

CHASE - A guidance counsellor from a Chase high school has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a female student last fall.

Kamloops Provincial Court judge Marianne Armstrong says she was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the male guidance counsellor from Chase Secondary School sexually assaulted a female student under the age of 16 in November 2017.

The accused, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim, became emotional as judge Armstrong acquitted him of charges today, Nov. 27.

In early November 2017, the complainant says there were two separate unwanted incidents where her male guidance counsellor rubbed her back and butt, and touched her breasts while attending the school.

According to the her testimony, the first incident occurred last November, when she was fetching a forgotten water bottle that she had left in the accused’s Chase classroom.

Armstrong quoted her saying “he started to rub my back then he had his hand on my butt for about five seconds.”

In the second incident, the complaint says she wasn’t sure of the exact date but says the second incident took place “days after.”

“(The accused) called (the victim) out of her art class unexpectedly,” Armstrong said.

The victim says once she was in the counsellor’s office, they began discussing heartbeats.

“He went to go feel where mine was,” Armstrong said, quoting the girl's evidence testimony, adding the victim said the accused placed his hand on her breasts.

Two other students from the school testified as well, although neither saw the alleged touching, Armstrong said.

One witness said around the time of the allegations, the student noticed the victim was upset in the school bathroom where the victim told her of the unwanted sexual touching from the guidance counsellor. 

The witness encouraged the victim to tell the principal of the allegations and the accused was suspended from the high school.

The accused denied the incident saying he never uses the school phones to call any students out of class and he never discussed heartbeats with the victim.

Armstrong says she was not satisfied the crown proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt. She says although the victim appeared as an "articulate and earnest young woman" there were gaps when she recalled the memories of the alleged incidents.

The accused was acquitted on one count of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16 and one count of sexual assault.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 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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