National Post

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Teen blames teacher for 'ruined years'

Letters to elementary school student signed with 'love,' happy faces and hearts: Sexual assault alleged

Francine Dubé
National Post

National Post
A former student says he was obsessed with teacher Laura Sclater.

BARRIE - An 18-year-old man said yesterday his friendship with Laura Sclater, the former elementary school teacher accused of sexually assaulting him in 1998, still haunts him.

''I was in love with Mrs. Sclater. I was pretty much obsessed with her,'' he said. Although he is now 18, the court has imposed a publication ban on the names of witnesses who were minors at the time the events are said to have occurred. '

'I didn't talk to any other girls. I didn't date any girls.''

He said even today, the relationship is the subject of gossip among his peers. ''I can't get that back, the five years of my life that were ruined,'' he said.

Mrs. Sclater, now 31, has pleaded not guilty to one count each of sexual assault, invitation to sexual touching and sexual interference.

The events are alleged to have taken place between January and April of 1998, after she returned to teaching a Grade 8 class from a maternity leave.

Dozens of letters she wrote to the alleged victim were entered into evidence on his first day of testimony on Friday, signed with ''love,'' happy faces and sometimes hearts. Several more were entered yesterday.

''My sister does look like me, but [your brother] looks like you. I don't think sibling swapping is a good idea,'' Mrs. Sclater wrote in one.

''I am sure that you wouldn't want me with [your brother], so excuse me if I won't be introducing you to my sister anytime soon. Have some loyalty...!!!!!!!!''

In another she wrote: ''I will tell the girls to keep their hands off my property or I will use my martial arts on them.''

She wrote to tell him that she walked by his classroom one day and blew him a kiss. She told him what she planned to wear. She complained about her husband, who taught at the same school.

''Mr. Sclater is sucking the life out of me, but yes, we're OK now, thanks for asking,'' she wrote in one letter.

Some of the letters contain derogatory remarks about the alleged victim's twin brother, saying their mother must be ''amazing'' to be able to deal with him. On another occasion she wrote: ''Tell your little brother that he is not only a brother, he is also a bother.''

But she also wrote to the twin brother, saying he could dance with her at an upcoming trip to Ottawa.

The alleged victim wrote her back. ''I here [sic] your sister is in town and she looks a lot like you so she must be gorgeous.

''What are you going to were to the Raptor's game no matter what you pick it will look gorgeous on you. My last shot was a forty foot shot and guess who's [sic] name I said man your name is good luck honey.''

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer David Matheson, the alleged victim admitted to several inconsistencies and even reversals in his statements to police, the CAS and lawyers who prepared a civil suit against Mrs. Sclater. She and the school board that employed her are being sued by the boy's family for $2.6-million.

He agreed that the flowers he gave her consisted of a bouquet picked on the grounds of the school and a carnation purchased at the school for a Valentine's Day event.

He said he did not think she had ever given him a necklace, contradicting an earlier statement he made. Mr. Matheson also pointed out that he has given several different estimates of the number of times Mrs. Sclater is alleged to have sent messages to him each day. Cross-examination is to continue today.

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