West Kelowna teacher breaks down during sentencing hearing for sexual exploitation | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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West Kelowna teacher breaks down during sentencing hearing for sexual exploitation

Kelowna Law Courts.

Bradley Furman broke down into silent sobs at moments during today’s sentencing hearing, as the court heard more about what led him to start a sexual relationship with a student and then continue it even after he was caught.

Furman, the former West Kelowna teacher who has been in prison since his last bail breach more than 100 days ago, has yet to speak about the sexual exploitation and breach charges he pleaded guilty to earlier this year.

Insight into the behaviour that led him to break the law and have a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student, however, was offered by psychologist Dr. Matthew Burnett who testified Dec. 17 for the bulk of the second day of the hearing.

“(Furman showed) mild social immaturity. There was a juvenile quality to his interactional style,” Dr. Burnett said, upon being questioned about reports he wrote about Furman in June and then November.

“Furman presented as somewhat less socially mature than a typical adult of his age…. There was a sort of naivety about him at times and also a sort of peevishness around the sanctions he was under. There was not really a mature understanding, in my opinion, on the link (between) his behaviours and the current circumstances.”

The Crown is seeking 71 months or nearly six years in prison and the defence has yet to present her sentencing recommendation. Provincial Court judge Clarke Burnett heard yesterday that Furman pursued a vulnerable student and "psychologically coerced her into a relationship that  became sexual" both at his home and the school. 

Furman was under fairly strict bail conditions that included not meeting with the teen he pursued in 2018 while she was a student at Mount Boucherie Secondary school. He was also banned from online interaction with her.

He was unable to deal with these restrictions and the court has been told that he continued with the relationship for more than a year. Each time he was caught, he was called into court and had conditions explained to him again.

Despite this, Furman told Dr. Burnett that he had a hard time understanding the relationship between his actions, the circumstance he was in and the sanctions that were applied to him.

“(Furman showed) a shallow understanding of how he got to that spot,” he said.

“He showed a reflexive pattern of limited psychological awareness. A view of things that seemed overly optimistic given the reality and an overly positive impression I would not have expected.”

The positivity was characterized as a "mild type of denial.

“He viewed himself as a very optimistic person always seeing the bright side of things,” Dr. Burnett said.

The assessment also showed that Furman had a hard time relating to adults and  an “intimacy deficit” he had with his wife was a sign of that.

“Nerdy, outcast and vulnerable students,” were Furman’s favourite, Dr. Burnett said, and he “felt good helping them out.”

This, however, wasn’t a significant concern in assessing his likelihood of committing another crime, which Dr. Burnett said was a moderate risk.

“I considered a number of things when he was reporting that. I did not come to the conclusion that Furman is the type of offender that sought out vulnerable persons, but got the impression that students to whom he was drawn to were who he identified with,” he said.

“He used the term misfits and said he felt closeness (with those) who he perceived as an outcast or who were struggling."

He also indicated that he considered certain students to be more friends than students.

Overall, Dr. Burnett said Furman needs moderate-intensity sex offender treatment. And while he thinks he's of slightly higher risk of breaking bail conditions again, he's of a lower risk for committing a similar crime.

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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