When the student returned home, he told his mother he had a “new best friend.” Pontbriand initiated sex with the boy soon after on a private trip approved by his mother to help him with his problems; it was the ﬁrst of some 300 sexual liaisons that took place on school trips, private getaways, at his home and her home.
The teacher bought the boy a cellphone after his mother tried to shut down communication between the two.
She gained the trust of the teenager, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, when they exchanged intimate details during a 2002 school cycling trip.
He described the pain he felt after his parents’ divorce; she told him her marriage was a mistake.
The Crown called for three years incarceration for “egregious breach of trust.” Ralph received 18 months house arrest, six months curfew and community service.
The entrenched belief that men are propelled by lust, women by emotional need, shadowed Ralph’s case, as it does others involving female teachers.
“She doesn’t appear to have any insight into the harm she has caused.” Justice Selwyn Romilly was sympathetic to Ralph, concluding the grandmother didn’t pose a danger to the community and shows “considerable remorse.” When a male is a victim of a female, society doesn’t take it as seriously, says Robert Shoop, a professor of education law at Kansas State University and an internationally recognized expert on sexual harassment and abuse prevention in schools.Attitudes are shaped too by a popular culture that celebrates “MILFs” (“mothers I’d like to f–k”) and dismisses sexually voracious older women as “cougars.” Male teachers who have sex with underage female students are viewed as statutory rapists or creeps; women who do the same are perceived as doing the boy a favour or providing a rite of passage, evidenced by the inevitable “Where was she when I was in high school? “When a woman is involved, the language is different,” says clinical forensic psychologist Franca Cortoni, a professor at Université de Montréal who studies female sexual offenders, a ﬁeld of research in its infancy.Female teachers who sexually exploit students, usually male, is one of three known categories of female sexual offender, Cortoni says.Ten of the 15 revocations in 2012 were for sexually related misconduct; three involved female teachers.Of those four women over the two years, only one faced criminal charges: high school teacher Jill Sparks of Whitby, Ont., was sentenced to 45 days in jail and one year of house arrest in 2009 after pleading guilty to sexual interference and assault of a 14-year-old boy.Public records of provincial bodies governing teachers provide only a glimpse of a bigger story. Gabrielle Barkany, spokesperson for the Ontario College of Teachers, says there has been no increase in female teachers’ licences being revoked for sexually related misconduct in recent years: “Our statistics do not indicate an increase or a speciﬁc trend.” Yet many cases involving teachers, both male and female, don’t come to trial or public scrutiny.