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Saturday, June 03, 2000

Teen says he's grown in love with ex-teacher
Youth, 18, charged with having sex with 13-year-old girl
Ian Bailey
National Post

SECHELT, B.C. - The teenage boy who wooed his teacher and helped destroy her promising career says he is in love with her.

"It's way more than just physical," the 18-year-old said yesterday in his first interview since the teacher was convicted on a charge of sexual exploitation in April. "I have grown in love with her."

The lanky teenager, who cannot be named under a court-ordered publication ban, wears a ring of "affection" on his wedding finger from Heather Ingram, his former accounting teacher, who is now serving a 10-month conditional sentence for their affair.

Ingram, 30, and the youth have talked of marriage. They now live together in Ingram's small home, located about 20 km south of Sechelt, B.C.

"I think I will be with her for a while," the youth said of his relationship with the woman he once mistook for a fellow student in the halls of Chatelech high school.

"You never know. This could be the one."

The youth was in court yesterday to face a charge of having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The matter was put over to June 16. He declined comment on the allegation.

Ingram describes the alleged incident as "minor" and says it won't affect their relationship.

Ingram's career as a teacher ended last October when she revealed she had been having sex with the youth, one of her accounting students. The affair began in January, 1999, when he was 17. He pursued his teacher, who was then in a common-law relationship.

"I figure I am good looking," he said. "I am not [egotistical] or high on myself, probably average," he said.

According to the Criminal Code, it is illegal for an adult in a position of authority to have a sexual relationship with a person under 18. Ingram, who pleaded guilty to the charge, now works as an office administrator for an environmental consulting firm.

Their affair has drawn media attention from across North America. It is one of three recent high-profile cases in British Columbia that involve allegations of sex between female teachers and male students.

The youth said he did not think his relationship with Ingram would end up before the courts. "We never thought it would be a criminal charge. I knew it was wrong [for Ingram] to be sleeping with a student," he said. "I didn't think it was all that wrong."

His mother approves of the relationship. A teacher's aide, she has known Ingram for years.

The youth said he is mindful of all that Ingram has given up for him. She was a widely praised teacher hailed for her skills by school administrators.

"I feel bad, for sure," said the youth. "I feel kind of like it's my fault. If I had never pursued [the relationship], this never would have happened."

Under the terms imposed by a provincial court judge this week, Ingram is essentially only allowed to leave her home to go to work, meetings with probation officials, and for medical appointments.

"There's lots of stuff we can do around the house," said the youth. "It's hopefully going to be a nice summer, [we have a] big yard. It will be all right."

He drove off from court in Ingram's sporty red 1976 Triumph convertible.

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