Vancouver Province

Last Updated: Wednesday 3 November 1999

Teacher in sex scandal 'confessed'

Keith Thirkell Special to The Province
The Province

(Heather) Ingram

Keith Thirkell, The Province / School superintendent Clifford Smith asks why he didn't know earlier.

SECHELT -- A female high-school teacher has confessed to having sex with one of her male students, says the Sechelt RCMP.

Heather Ingram "confessed to her superintendent (Clifford Smith) to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student," Cpl. Mike Frizzell said yesterday. "She realized she was doing the wrong thing and has accepted responsibility for it.

"In effect, she turned herself in on Oct. 24. She was told it would mean the end of her job."

Ingram, in her early 30s, taught at Chatelech secondary in Sechelt and coached boy's wrestling and tennis.

Last night, during an in-camera meeting, Sunshine Coast trustees upheld Ingram's suspension with pay while police investigate.

Frizzell said Ingram, who has taught on the coast for four years, could be charged with sexual exploitation.

The relationship with the boy was mutual, but it is illegal for a person in a position of authority, such as a teacher, to have sex with children under the age of 18 who they supervise.

"A simple confession cannot be used against an accused to convict them," said Frizzell. "We still have to corroborate it with solid evidence, so we're looking for witnesses that may have seen her with the youth in question.

"We're interviewing everyone and their dog this week, but right now some of those dogs are a little hard to find."

Frizzell said some students are making a martyr out of Ingram and may be withholding information, saying she had "consensual" sex with the student she should be left alone.

"If that had been a male teacher and a female student the public would demand the full weight of the law be applied," said Frizzell.

He said Ingram's confession "will be taken into account" if the case proceeds to court.

"That may work in her favour later on but the maximum sentence for something like this is ... five years in jail."

Smith said all teachers are told during training "not to have any intimate dealings of any kind with students, ever."

Smith was concerned that he didn't learn of the affair earlier.

"If this was known for some time, by students and possibly other teachers, why was nothing done or said? I don't even want to think about those implications right now," he said.

Ingram has not returned calls.