An Abbotsford teen says she did not attend her graduation ceremony in 2009 because she was hurt by allegations that she had lied about receiving sexual text messages from a teacher.
The girl’s victim impact statement was read in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Friday by Crown counsel during the sentencing hearing for Martin Careen, convicted last July of invitation to sexual touching.
Careen, 52, was a teacher at St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary – a private Catholic school in Abbotsford – when he had a text conversation with the teen, then 17, in the late evening and early morning of Jan. 27 and 28, 2009.
At first, the texts addressed an upcoming history exam and other school work, but they became sexual in nature.
The court heard that Careen was highly regarded among students and parents. In her victim impact statement, the teen said she became the subject of ridicule and harassment after she reported the incident to police.
A Facebook page was set up in support of Careen, and some posts suggested the girl should kill herself or “be harpooned,” according to the statement.
“People were so angry with me because they thought I had made this up,” the teen stated.
She said she chose not to attend her commencement ceremony in fear of the negative response she would receive as she walked across the stage.
She said she was hesitant to attend her prom, but decided to go just two hours before it started.
“It wasn’t the prom I had imagined,” she stated, adding that Careen and his wife, also a St. John Brebeuf teacher, received a standing ovation at the celebration as a show of support.
The girl said the incident has impacted her for life.
“I can no longer trust older men and have trouble being around them … I feel as if my teenage years were torn away from me and I can never get them back.”
Crown counsel Sylvia Domaradzki recommended Careen serve a jail term of nine to 12 months followed by two years’ probation.
She said Careen was in a position of trust at the time of the offence, not only among his students, but among their parents.
“When parents send their kids off to school, they trust they are going to be safe with their teachers … This was an egregious breach of trust.”
Defence lawyer Joe Doyle said a more appropriate sentence for Careen would be 45 to 90 days in prison, served over a three-day period (Wednesday to Friday) each week.
He said the incident was over quickly – further sexual texts were not sent by Careen – and “there was never any suggestion that any of this (the suggestive messages) would be followed through.”
The judge’s decision on sentencing has been adjourned until Wednesday, May 16.
Careen taught religion, history and comparative studies at St. John Brebeuf, and also coached sports such as soccer and volleyball. He was suspended without pay when the charges were laid in 2009, and was banned from teaching in the Catholic school system upon his conviction.
He will not be permitted to work in the public school system.