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A psychiatrist for Ralph’s defence reported the former teacher suffered from “teacher-lover” syndrome, a clinical term dating to the late 1980s to describe teachers, usually female, who believe they’re in a consensual romantic relationship with students.Ralph’s feelings for the boy grew out of a desire to help others, the court heard; she equated her feelings with “young love,” and she connected with the boy better than she did with her husband of more than 20 years.A male having sex with a minor child is recognized as a horror, which of course it is, he says.“But in cases where a female had sex with a minor boy, there have been many examples of judges saying, ‘Where’s the harm here?Cortoni hasn’t studied female teachers specifically, she says: “I haven’t been able to get data.” Canada’s national sex-offender registry doesn’t provide gender breakdown for “privacy reasons.” A recent freedom of information search in Wales, however, showed female sex offenders in that part of Britain were the fastest growing category, more than doubling from 78 in 2009 to 193 in 2012 (the number of male sex offenders rose 67.5 per cent from 3,655 to 6,122).We’re just beginning to understand sexual abuse by female teachers and its consequences, says Shoop, who calls it “abhorrent behaviour that’s epidemic.” People don’t appreciate how frequently it occurs, he says: “The conversation is probably where the abuse of children by priests was 10 years ago.” The sensationalized template for the female-teacher-and-male-student relationship remains mired in the decades-old spectacle of California teacher Mary Kay Le Tourneau, a married 34-year-old mother of four who was jailed in 1997 for second-degree rape of her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau.I was far too naive at the time to recognize her lies and manipulation.” The judge agreed: “The court is convinced that the accused used the victim to satisfy her own sexual needs, thus exploiting the victim’s naïveté, his lack of maturity, his dependence and his trust.” Canadian law is clear that a minimum jail sentence must occur in sexual charges involving children, meaning those under age 16, the age of consent; when an adult is in a position of authority or trust, however, that age rises to 18. Sentencing in the Pontbriand case, as well as the two-year prison term given former Calgary school teacher Jennifer Mason in July for sexually exploiting a 16-year-old, recognize the severity of the crime. In April, Kim Gervais, a 37-year-old former elementary school teacher in Timmins, Ont., was given seven months in jail and two years of probation for “abhorrent” breach of trust after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual interference and one count of inviting for a sexual purpose involving four male students who were 12 and 13 at the time. In March, 59-year-old Deborah Marion Ralph, a former Langley, B.Yet a cultural double standard persists in attitudes toward and legal treatment of male and female teachers who sexually exploit students. C., elementary school teacher, avoided jail after pleading guilty to sexual interference with a student who was 11 when a three-year relationship began in 1998; Ralph was 44.
He went to police in 2007 after being expelled; later he claimed the relationship left him depressed and suicidal.(Others are women who sexually abuse a child or teenager with another adult, often a partner, and women who abuse young children, usually under their care.) Female sexual offenders have always existed but have not been studied until recently, says Cortoni, the co-editor of , published in 2010.“They don’t ﬁt with society’s views of what women are supposed to be like.” They comprise only four to ﬁve per cent of all sex offenders, she reports; women were behind one to two per cent of all sexual crimes reported to police in Canada between 20.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.