National Post

Saturday, June 29, 2002

Teacher to boy: 'You are looking good today'

13-year-old student: Notes entered as evidence at sex assualt trial

Francine Dubé
National Post

National Post
Laura Sclater, 31, is accused of sexually assaulting a boy who was her student in 1998.

BARRIE, Ont. - Laura Sclater, the former elementary school teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old student, sent dozens of letters to the boy in 1998, calling him ''Bad Boy,'' and ''Big Stud,'' telling him ''I love you,'' and often signing off with a heart and a happy face.

''I just saw you in the Computer Lab,'' wrote Mrs. Sclater, then 28, in one letter entered as an exhibit at her trial yesterday. ''You are looking good today. You never wear jeans anymore.''

Mrs. Sclater, 31, has pleaded not guilty to one charge each of invitation to sexual touching, sexual interference and sexual assault. Her teaching certificate has been suspended. She is also being sued by the boy and his family.

The boy, now 18, said yesterday the relationship began when Mrs. Sclater agreed to supervise basketball games with his friends before breakfast and at lunch at the elementary school. One day, when they were short of players, she agreed to play and soon was playing regularly. She wore revealing clothing, the young man testified yesterday, and when guarding him would push her body up against his.

After he wrote her to thank her for supervising the games, she began writing him. Soon she was sending him notes as often as five or six times a day, the boy testified yesterday. He said that if he didn't write her a note, she would ask him if he was mad or if anything was wrong.

The letters were written on scraps of paper and in one case on the back of another student's evaluation sheet. One came in the shape of a giant heart. The two exchanged e-mail over March Break, according to the boy. She sent him an effusive Easter card, which she signed "love, your woman." The words ''Yeah, right,'' were tacked on afterward.

She often discussed clothes with him -- what she was wearing or planned to wear, and asked his opinions and preferences. He preferred her in dresses.

''I'll dance with you at the grad. Personally I love it when guys dress up, so do,'' she wrote.

''You'd better save me lots of dances and if they play any of my favourite fast songs I am dancing like a RAPTOR'S DANCER,'' she wrote in one. ''I LOVE TO GET JIGGY,'' she also wrote.

A trip to Ottawa had been planned for the graduating class that year, and Mrs. Sclater was supposed to supervise. A trip to a local pool was part of the plan, and Mrs. Sclater discussed her bathing suit selection with the boy.

''I investigated my bathing suits over the weekend, and there are a couple that aren't too 'much' so I will be wearing one of them. I will bring my one-piece [that's too big] just in case.'' In another she wrote that ''I have decided to wear an undershirt over my bathing suit, so relax please.''

He testified that she also told him that if she were to fall asleep on the bus, he could touch her and she would not get mad.

''I will definitely not sleep on the bus to Ottawa or the Ottawa Police might have to dust me for prints!!!!!'' she wrote in seeming reference to that discussion. ''You know I trust you to keep your hands where they belong!''

He gave her flowers and a chain and pendant, which, when coupled with one that he also wore, spelled out ''best friends.''

''Thank you for the flowers, you really shouldn't have. They are lovely, just don't do it again. I love tulips...'' she wrote, and ''Thank you very much for the beautiful chain and pendant. I am wearing it right now.... I am told that you are wearing yours too. ''

She did not get along well with the boy's twin brother, referring on one occasion to his ''nasty temper.''

''Bad Boy, sorry about last night, we both got carried away joking and we shouldn't do that. That's how fights start. Just look at [your brother] and I. Ever since he got this COCKY ATTITUDE he's been mad at me and I'm afraid to even talk to him now, let along joke with him! Anyway, if you are showing everyone my notes, then why bother? I'm not mad, but I don't feel like everyone knowing what's on my mind, see. I tell you tonnes of stuff I don't tell other kids and I thought what you told me was between us too?! I never show anyone your notes.''

The boy said he developed a crush on Mrs. Sclater, whose husband also taught at the school.

''Who are you sitting beside at the show today? It better be two girls,'' he wrote in one letter. ''I think you have the hots for [someone else]. I hope not. You are so pretty and gorgeous you make every girl in our school look [bad]. Miss I thought I was your hottie -- you already have [someone else] lined up for next year!''

The relationship began in January, 1998, after Mrs. Sclater returned from maternity leave and continued until April that year when the boy's mother found some of the notes.

''I started having a crush on Mrs. Sclater,'' the boy said yesterday. ''We started hanging out a lot,'' between classes, before school, after school."

He said he would hold hands and talk with her on days when she was on yard duty. He said that during a school dance, they danced a slow song together, their bodies pressed close. He said he kissed her a couple of times, and she hugged him many times.

''She kissed me on the lips once or twice.''

He said that several times, he sat in her lap, or she would sit in his.

''It made me feel good, special,'' he said. ''I was happy.

''I think Mrs. Sclater cared about me a lot and had some feelings for me.''

His feelings for Mrs. Sclater appeared to last until the fall of the following year, though he had gone to high school.

''I have liked you for the longest time,'' he wrote another girl in November, 1998. ''The reason I never asked you out was because I was obsessed with Mrs. Sclater.''

The trial continues next week.

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