|Calgary teacher Blaine Harrison has been sentenced to 11 months in jail for sexually abusing a teenage student. (Sun Media/Jim Wells, file)
CALGARY -- Weeping and muttering to himself, perhaps in prayer, a private Catholic teacher was carted off to jail yesterday for having a sexual tryst with a student.
Noting the important role teachers have in the lives of our children, provincial court Judge Barb Veldhuis said a stern sentence was warranted.
Veldhuis ordered Blaine Harrison to serve an 11-month period of incarceration followed by a year on probation.
Harrison, who throughout Veldhuis' ruling sat crying, threw his head back and then buried his face in his hand and wept when she rejected his lawyer's call for a much shorter term.
Defence counsel Pat Fagan said a sentence that could be served on weekends of less than 90 days would be sufficient punishment.
But Veldhuis said breaching the trust held between teachers and students and having a sexual relationship with his student called for a greater punishment.
"The special role that teachers hold in the lives of young people is perhaps only secondary to parents," Veldhuis noted.
"Sexual acts took place on school property as well as both of their homes," Veldhuis said.
She said Harrison's actions were even more aggravated when maintenance staff caught them and reported what they saw to the authorities and he convinced her to cover up for him.
The girl -- between 15 and 17 when the abuse took place -- told police and her parents Harrison was only consoling her, allowing their relationship to continue until she broke it off in February 2007.
Even then, the teacher at Clearwater Academy continued to act inappropriately, first becoming jealous and reporting her drinking to her parents and then laying guilt on her after Harrison was charged.
"He sent e-mails asking the complainant to "please, please save me," a heavy guilt trip to impose on a young student," Veldhuis said.
Crown prosecutor Susan Pepper -- who had sought a jail term of up to two years -- said the ruling should send an important message to teachers about proper conduct with students.
A condition of Harrison's probation is that he have no contact with his one-time underaged lover.