A former school teacher will learn her fate in February on charges of sexually exploiting two of her students at Nakusp Secondary School in the fall of 2016.
The trial of 27-year-old Shanny McIvor wrapped up in a Nakusp courtroom Friday morning.
McIvor faces two charges of sexual exploitation, under Sec 153 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits sexual touching of a young person with whom the accused is in a position of trust or authority.
She could face up to 10 years in prison for those offences.
McIvor, 27, was hired to work at the Nakusp Secondary School as a physical education teacher in the fall of 2016. She also taught a First Nations cultural course at the school.
The court heard testimony the novice teacher was having difficulty controlling her classes, felt isolated and was in conflict with other staff members at the high school.
She befriended two students at the high school, one 16 and one 17 at the time, who were to become the complainants in the case. Each testified that between October 1 and November 4 they had had a sexual encounter with McIvor.
The names of the complainants are protected under a publication ban.
In closing arguments, Crown prosecutor David Meagher said the court was being asked to make a “common sense decision”. He said that the testimony made it clear sexual activity had taken place, and that as a high school teacher, McIvor was in a position of trust and authority. He said the complainants’ testimony reinforced each other and had not been shaken under cross-examination.
Defence attorney Richard Fowler called on the court to consider the “exceptional factual circumstances” in the case. He said there was no evidence McIvor had engaged in seducing the students, had not groomed them for sexual exploitation, or used her position of authority or trust to control them. He described McIvor as “vulnerable, weak, lonely, immature, sad ” – not a person using their power to control others.
“I accept it is a difficult case, and close to the line,” he told the court. “But you are required to go beyond the status of one person and the status of another… exploitation is absent in this case.”
The defence co-counsel, Karin Blok, pointed out inconsistencies in one of the students’ testimony, which she maintained were important enough to have that charge thrown out.
Provincial Court Judge Phillip Seagram said he would hand down his judgment at the next Nakusp court date, on February 28.
McIvor had originally faced two other charges, of sexually assaulting the teens. However, those charges were thrown out by Judge Seagram on Thursday afternoon, after the Crown and defence attorneys agreed there was no evidence to support the assault charge.
McIvor faced up to five years in prison for each of those offences.