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Five months in jail for former Shawnigan teacher who had sex with student

A former teacher at Shawnigan Lake School has been sentenced to five months in jail followed by two years of probation.
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A former teacher at Shawnigan Lake School has been sentenced to five months in jail followed by two years of probation.

In May, provincial court Judge Carmen Rogers found Andrew Olson was in a position of trust and authority when he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student at the boarding school.

Rogers convicted Olson, now 36, of two counts of sexual touching and one count of Internet luring and handed the former teacher three concurrent five-month jail sentences, followed by two years of probation.

“These are obviously very grave offences in that they involved a breach of the trust placed in Mr. Olson by his profession, his employer, the victim and her family,” Rogers wrote in her judgment.

“Moral blameworthiness is high, given the circumstances of the offence in that Mr. Olson made an active and considered decision to pursue a sexual relationship with the victim, knowing it was wrong both morally and criminally.”

Olson, who was married and a house leader at the private school, did not teach the student or coach her in any sports. But he did attend staff meetings where her academic performance was discussed and received emails about matters concerning her.

Rogers found that between Dec. 1, 2014, and March 23, 2015, Olson and the girl chatted on Facebook. Many of their conversations were sexual in nature and involved discussing, planning and facilitating their sexual encounters.

On Dec. 28, 2014, in the early morning hours, the young woman went to Olson’s house and had sex. They met again at a hotel on March 6, 2015, and had sex. At the time, the victim believed she was in love with Olson, noted Rogers.

Since the offences, Olson and his wife have separated, but she remains supportive of him, said Rogers. Olson was reported to be a good and dedicated teacher but has been fired from his job and will lose his teaching licence. Recently, he was fired from two jobs after his employers became aware of the charges against him. Olson is currently unemployed but has been offered employment when he is released from jail, said the judge.

An aggravating factor, the judge found, was that the offences took place within a trust relationship at a boarding school where all the staff take on a parent-like role with all students. Also aggravating was the significant impact on the victim, which was described in victim-impact statements written by the girl and her mother, and the fact that Olson was aware of at least some of the victim’s personal vulnerabilities.

In mitigation, Rogers noted that Olson has no criminal record and is of otherwise good character. Family and friends wrote 21 letters of support on his behalf. Rogers also found that although Olson did not plead guilty “he is sincerely remorseful for his actions.”

It is not mitigating that the victim was a willing participant in the sexual interactions and discussions, she said.

“Parliament has chosen to criminalize exploitive sexual behaviour … the Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that ‘notwithstanding the consent, desire or wishes of the young person, it is the adult in the position of trust who has the responsibility to decline having any sexual contact whatsoever with that young person.’ ”

Sexual exploitation has a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days and a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail.

Crown prosecutor Leah Fontaine asked the court to impose a global sentence of two years less a day in jail, followed by two years probation. Defence lawyer Geof Simair suggested Olson should be receive a concurrent sentences of three- to six-months for each offence, followed by two years of probation.

Rogers ordered Olson to submit samples of his DNA to the authorities. During his probation, along with the statutory terms, Rogers ordered Olson to take counselling as directed by his probation officer.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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