National Post

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Teacher sent letters to other pupils, trial told

Accused in sex assault

Francine Dubé
National Post

(LAURA) SCLATER: Allegedly sent strange letters to students.

BARRIE, Ont. - Laura Sclater, the former elementary school teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old student in a seduction that included suggestive letters, sent messages to other students as well, it was revealed yesterday at her trial.

After returning to teaching in January, 1998, following a maternity leave, Mrs. Sclater, now 31, sent a picture of her infant son to a 13-year-old girl in her Grade 8 class. Inscribed on the back was a message, intended to be read as if it were written by the infant, the words purposely misspelled.

"Mi hottie und Honie," it began. "Hey, yu secksie baybe yu drif me crazie. I lufv yu, wen I am oldir we are gitting marreed, I hafv the plan. Yu wyl be 33 und I whyl be 20. it kin wuk out...I um a bigk studt und i um all yursz woman!"

Mrs. Sclater signed the message with her son's name. The names of the minors in the case are protected by a court order.

The recipient of the letter, now an 18-year-old high school student, testified yesterday that she thought at the time that the message was funny.

Now, however, she said "It's kind of weird, I guess."

The girl said she also saw the victim put his hands on Mrs. Sclater's buttocks during a slow dance at the school, a recollection that defence attorney David Matheson said is going to be contradicted by another witness later in the trial.

"It was kind of like a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship," testified the 18-year-old, who was close friends with the alleged victim when they were in elementary school. "Only it wasn't because Mrs. Sclater was married and she was a teacher, so it was kind of like a joke."

The young woman also testified that other teachers at the school expressed reservations about the relationship between Mrs. Sclater and the alleged victim.

The boy had written a story called "King and Queen's Love," naming the king after himself and the queen after Mrs. Sclater, "a beautiful, might I add gorgeous Queen named Laura."

The queen in the story is abducted because her king is too "memorized" by her beautiful eyes to protect her" . They are reunited in the end and share "a long romantic kiss."

After Mrs. Sclater posted the short story in her classroom, two teachers came to talk to her about her relationship with the boy, according to the young woman who testified yesterday. She overheard one teacher say to Mrs. Sclater that "he did not think it was right," before they moved out of hearing distance.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Matheson, the girl also revealed that when Mrs. Sclater left the school in April, 1998, after her letters to the boy were discovered by his mother, she sent her former teacher a sympathetic e-mail.

In it, the girl wrote that she knew the relationship between Mrs. Sclater and the boy was nothing more than "fun and games."

The relationship between Mrs. Sclater and the boy was investigated by police and the CAS in 1998. No charges were laid and no sexual abuse was disclosed to the CAS by any of the children interviewed. The second investigation began in 2000, during the preparation of a civil suit against Mrs. Sclater. The civil suit remains outstanding.

Mrs. Sclater has pleaded not-guilty to one charge each of sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching. Her licence to teach has been suspended.

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