A high school teacher accused of indecently assaulting three of his female student told a court Thursday, “I did not touch her,” when asked about interaction during a class with one of the complainants.
Asked about a second girl, who testified that he had touched her breast, he said she never called him over to her desk for help with her work, as she had said, and he never touched her.
He said he never touched any of the three girls, even by accident.
He concluded his evidence before the lunch break and defense attorney Steve McField said he was not calling any other evidence. Justice Michael Wood told the jury that he expected they would deliberate on Friday.
Crown counsel Toyin Salako closed the case for the prosecution Thursday morning after the jury heard from the three girls, some of their classmates, and other witnesses on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In his evidence, the teacher related an incident that had occurred the very first day of a new school term. The three girls were in the class and sat near each other with other friends at the back of the classroom.
He saw the first girl whispering to a boy and the boy said the word “pedophile.” He told the class to be quiet, but saw her prompting the boy to say it again. The boy said it and walked toward the teacher asking what a pedophile was. The students around them were laughing.
The defendant said the boy was an ESL (English as a Second Language) student. The teacher explained that a pedophile was a person convicted in a court of law “and you don’t go around calling people a pedophile.”
He told the court he realized from that day he was going to have problems with that group. Over the next few weeks, he reprimanded them because of their constant talking or chattering during class. He said he was stern with them and threatened to call their parents, but did not do so and did not issue any detentions.
On the day of the alleged incidents, he said, all students were working on a project. He was at his desk the entire time because he was working on a mock exam that he had to submit and that was his priority.
He was reminded that the first girl had said that she went to retrieve a paper from a printer and that he had blocked her path as she was returning to her desk. He said that was not true: “We were not in close proximity because she was sitting at her desk with her friends.”
He said he thought the students were referring to him as a pedophile because five years earlier a student’s parent had complained about him being a pedophile. He explained that he had given a girl a “Need to Improve” grade. The girl’s mother came to the school and said the girl had told her that he didn’t teach anything and all he did was stare at her. The mother told a counselor that he was staring at the girl in a sexual way and used the word pedophile.
He said he was questioned about it, but the issue was more about the grade he gave than the look he gave students when they were being disruptive.
Ms. Salako pointed out that the incident had happened five years earlier, when the girls accusing him now were not at the school. The teacher replied that the students have relatives in school “and these things propagate.”
On the day of the alleged incidents, he said, he saw the girls talking and they were looking at him in a way that made him feel uncomfortable as a teacher.