National Post

May 2, 2002

Gehring barred from teaching for 10 years

She says committee was 'hung up on the sex thing'

Sarah Schmidt
National Post

Kirsty Wrigglesworth, The Associated Press
Amy Gehring remains defiant after being barred from teaching.

The Canadian teacher at the centre of a British schoolboy scandal yesterday accused a disciplinary panel of being "hung up on the sex thing" as it handed her the toughest penalty ever for professional misconduct.

A three-member disciplinary committee of the Ontario College of Teachers yesterday barred Amy Gehring from the classroom for 10 years and slapped her with a $10,000 invoice for costs. She was found guilty of seven charges of professional misconduct, including sexual abuse of students related to trysts involving British boys, aged 14 to 16.

If Ms. Gehring, 26, applies for reinstatement to the profession, she will have to undergo assessments from a forensic psychiatrist and educational psychologist at her own expense to determine if she has a clear understanding of boundary issues.

The committee also summoned Ms. Gehring to be reprimanded at a closed session.

Reached last night at her parents' home in Otterville, a small farming town in Southwestern Ontario, Ms. Gehring said she will not appear for a scolding. ''If I didn't show up for my hearing, I'd be extra stupid to show up to be reprimanded. They've already buried me. Why would I want to go and watch them bury me even more?''

Ms. Gehring was equally firm in her contempt for the way in which the college pursued the case. Before the hearing, she agreed to relinquish her teaching licence because of inappropriate social interactions during her tenure as a supply teacher in Britain from September, 2000, and February, 2001. She admitted she drank, partied and shopped with students, but denied having sex with them.

''I offered to give up my licence and that wasn't good enough,'' she said in an interview. ''They could have taken away my licence without bringing in the sex stuff. They had enough to take my licence away, but they were hung up on the sex thing.''

Thomas Forbes, counsel for the college, set out to prove her transgressions included sexual intercourse with five boys, in her home, a garden, alley and washroom.

He said the sex question was key to the case because such details would then be a matter of public record, to which Ms. Gehring would have to answer if she ever applied to be readmitted to teaching. ''We just didn't want to make any mistake that this did happen and nobody was going to be able to explain it away.''

Mr. Forbes presented evidence on Monday, including testimony from a Grade 11 student. He said Ms. Gehring seduced him at her home when he was a 16-year-old virgin.

Ms. Gehring was acquitted of indecent assault charges earlier this year involving other students. The relationship between her and the student who testified at the disciplinary hearing was not subject of any criminal probe because the boy had reached the age of consent.

Despite the decision, Ms. Gehring remains defiant. Yesterday, she again denied having sex with the teenager who testified against her. She chalked up an earlier admission in a newspaper article and television broadcast to manipulative reporters. ''I just gave in and I shouldn't have. But on the legal document, I won't sign my name to something I don't agree with,'' she said.

Still, Ms. Gehring said the college need not worry because she has no plans to return to teaching. ''I didn't plan on teaching very long anyways. I didn't go into it for the right reasons.''

Ms. Gehring thinks she would have been a natural teacher. ''I know if my heart was in it, I could be a good teacher,'' she said, with a slight British accent still lingering.

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