|Lawyer Peter Brauti with teacher Mary Gowans outside a Toronto courthouse, Sept. 12, 2012. (QMI Agency)
TORONTO – The mother of a Toronto teen testified Wednesday that she suspected her son and his former teacher were involved in a sexual relationship in 2009.
Mary Gowans and the then 15-year-old had finished a waterfront race in the summer of 2009 when the mother noticed "how excited my son and Miss Gowans were at the end of the race.
"Then, my son told me he was going to babysit at Miss Gowans' after the race," the mother told Justice John McMahon in the judge-alone trial.
The teen testified earlier that Gowan rewarded him for beating her in the race by appearing in dripping wet, sleeveless T-shirt. A few months later, they engaged in four to six sessions of kissing and petting, mostly while under the guise of babysitting at her home, he testified.
Gowans, 42, then a gym and French teacher at Joseph Howe Sr. Public School, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation of the boy from November 2009 until Jan. 10, 2010.
Gowans is expected to testify that the teen made one unwanted sexual advance and then she abruptly cut off their friendship and barred him from her home.
The teen's parents sensed there was an inappropriate relationship developing between Gowans and their Grade 10 student son, court heard.
"I guess for me I couldn't fathom it. It seemed incomprehensible," said the West Hill mother of two.
Although the son graduated from Howe to Mowat Collegiate in 2008, he remained deeply involved in her life. He babysat Gowans' children, helped her with the running club and hockey team at Howe and jogged alone with the popular teacher, court heard.
On Christmas morning 2009, the mother and her daughter spotted a text message from Gowans on the boy's cell phone, which read: "Babe, Christmas came early," and ended with a winking face symbol.
The mother interrogated her son and his pal over the unusual text message.
The mom concluded that Gowans "does call other (teenage) boys 'Babe.'"
She thought Gowans lavished her son with expensive gifts and overpaid him for babysitting, giving him $15 to $20 for two hours of work.