Former teacher guilty of sex charge loses appeal
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – The conviction and sentence will stand for a former northern Saskatchewan teacher who sexually exploited a student.
Bonnie McLachlan was found guilty in Prince Albert last year of having a sexual relationship with a student at Queen Mary Community School where McLachlan worked in the 1990s.
She was given an 18-month conditional sentence to be served in the community and 12 months of probation.
McLachlan’s lawyer challenged the conviction by arguing the trial judge made errors.
The Crown appealed the sentence, saying the former teacher should have been sent to jail.
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejected both arguments.
A written decision, with reasons for the ruling, is expected at a later date.
Last year’s trial was the second one for McLachlan, 53, who had been acquitted of the same charge in 2011.
The name of the victim is protected by a publication ban.
McLachlan’s appeal claimed the judge erred in allowing certain evidence to be heard as well as in his charge to the jury.
The judge told jurors to use evidence from an event in Alberta to corroborate testimony given by the victim and other witnesses about encounters that occurred in Saskatchewan.
One of the victim’s friends testified that he saw McLachlan sitting on a 15-year-old boy’s lap and kissing him in a hot tub at a hotel in Banff, Alta. That testimony was admitted to support the victim’s claims that a sexual relationship took place in Saskatchewan.
The victim had testified that McLachlan initiated a sexual relationship and that the two had sex in the teacher’s car, at her house and on a band trip to Banff.
As for the Crown, the office of the Attorney General of Saskatchewan had called the sentence “demonstrably unfit.”
© The Canadian Press, 2014