TORONTO - Toronto teacher Mary Gowans wept tears of relief Friday after being acquitted of allegations she sexually assaulted her former student.
Justice John McMahon said he doesn't accept Gowans' versions of events - she denied any sexual contact with the now 18-year-old - and the judge said the teen "may very well have been telling the truth.
"But I cannot be certain. . .(therefore) it would be unsafe" to convict Gowans, said McMahon. "Gowans' version of events may possibly be true."
In an exclusive interview, the teen's mother said she was "extremely proud of my children for having the courage to tell the truth and that Gowans' will have to live with her lies the rest of her life."
McMahon said the teen acted as a babysitter-mentor for Gowans' children for two years, helped her coach the Joseph Howe hockey team and running club and jogged with her. The teen wanted to spend as much time as possible with the attractive French teacher, whom he desired sexually.
While babysitting her children, she permitted the 15-year-old to kiss, fondle her breasts and twice touch her genitals between November 2009 and January 2010, the teen testified. In June 2009, she exposed her breasts in a wet T-shirt or tank top to pay off a racing bet between them, court heard.
Gowans said she cut off the teen from babysitting and hockey after he made an unwelcome sexual advance while babysitting in early January 2010.
The teen, who cannot be identified. also testified Gowans wore skimpy jogging outfits to titillate him.
Calling the teen "exceptionally mature, bright and confident," the judge found there were "internal and external" inconsistencies in his evidence.
McMahon said "alarm bells should have been ringing" for the now 43-year-old teacher, who exchanged 2,218 text messages with the teen in an 11 month-period ending in January 2010. The judge said the teacher was naive for not seeing that the teen "had a schoolboy crush" on her.
Gowans sent him a text message early Christmas morning 2009, saying "Christmas came early babe," followed by a winking face.
"My alarm bells were ringing," said the teen's mom. "Ms. Gowans is not naive. She fabricated a story to help her escape responsibility for what she did."
The mother said the judge "scrutinized every minute detail of my son's evidence, but he accepted too much of Gowans' evidence at face value."