Crown seeks 8- to 9-year sentence for former Peterborough educator who sexually exploited teens

Karen Bagshaw leaves Peterborough Superior Court of Justice alongside husband Fred on Thursday, April 18, 2019 in Peterborough. Bagshaw will be sentenced in October. Courtesy of The Peterborough Examiner
NOTE: This article contains graphic, sexual language that some readers may find offensive and disturbing. Please read at your own discretion. The Crown is seeking a sentence of eight to nine years for Peterborough educational assistant (EA) Karen Bagshaw, who was found guilty of sexually exploiting two former teenage students.Following a 10-day trial in April, Bagshaw, a former EA with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, was found guilty in June of two counts of sexual exploitation. sexual interference, sexual invitation to sexual touching, luring, accessing child pornography and making explicit material available. Several other charges were dropped as the judge said evidence was not clear if the victim was under the age of 16 at the time.

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On Thursday, in Superior Court in Peterborough, Justice Chris de Sa accepted pre-sentencing submissions. The Crown is seeking a sentence of eight to nine years. The defence requested a sentence of five to six years.In her submission, Crown attorney Lisa Wannamaker said Bagshaw “grossly abused her position of power” as an educator and that her actions have had “deep and devastating” effects on the victims. Both victims were in the courtroom.The defence argued Bagshaw had been sexually abused as a young child for eight years and was battling depression at the time of the offences.Bagshaw, 59, is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 11.A publication ban prevents media from identifying the victims of the offences which took place from 2013-2015.During the trial, court heard testimony from numerous witnesses, including the two victims, who are now adults. They testified that Bagshaw befriended them during their time in intermediate school and that, by the time they had reached high school, she was having numerous sexual encounters — both oral and vaginal — with both. She also brought them on shopping sprees and purchased alcohol and drugs, court heard.One of the victims testified his first sexual encounter with Bagshaw was inside a car when he was 15 and that, by Grade 10, they were having sex regularly in her car as well as in hotels, his garage, portable toilets and public parks. He also told court he and the other victim had threesomes with Bagshaw “maybe five or six times.”The other victim told court he was routinely having sex with Bagshaw when he was in Grade 10.One witness said he took his concerns about Bagshaw to police in 2016, which led to a police investigation and charges. Court heard she lost her employment with the board following her charges.During the trial, Bagshaw testified that she was just friends with the boys and denied the relationships were ever sexual. She claimed she took the boys to a hotel during a snowstorm or when she was feeling ill while driving them. The Crown noted that Environment Canada records showed a snowstorm had not occurred on the day of one hotel visit.

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The defence also argued the complainants had incentive to lie due to an outstanding $5-million civil suit against Bagshaw and the school board.But in his verdict, de Sa said he completely rejected Bagshaw’s testimony and noted the complainants’ evidence was corroborated by other witnesses. He said he found Bagshaw’s “innocent” explanation of the events “to be contrived.”“I do not accept Ms. Bagshaw’s evidence,” da Sa wrote in his verdict. “… I found the evidence of (one complainant) extremely credible. … His first-hand description of the events at the hotel was extremely detailed. It was evident that he was recalling the events from his memory. Similarly, I believe the other witnesses also truthfully provided first-hand accounts of their specific observations. I accept their evidence regarding the sexual activities they observed.”

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