Toronto Sun

July 20, 2002

She's innocent

Sex-note teacher weeps as judge reads verdict

By ROB GRANATSTEIN -- Toronto Sun

Laura Sclater
BARRIE -- "Hottie" sex-note teacher Laura Sclater could be back at the blackboard as soon as November after being acquitted yesterday of three sexual misconduct charges.

Sclater, 31, burst into tears and hugged and kissed her husband, Stephen, after Judge Harry Keenan finished reading his verdict to the packed courtroom, tossing out all the charges. Her entire family was in tears after court.

"Laura Sclater is very relieved and is looking forward to spending the rest of the summer relaxing," said her lawyer, David Matheson, after Sclater barrelled through the media.

Keenan said evidence Sclater had sexual intent with the 13-year-old Goodfellow public school student to whom she wrote more than 65 letters fell "far short" of what's needed to convict.

The notes calling the boy "hottie," "big stud" and discussing "sibling swapping" and the boy touching her body while she slept on the bus to Ottawa were "foolish" -- not sexual interference or invitation to sexual touching.

"It was ill-advised and immature. It was not a criminal offence," Keenan said of her notes. "The references to sex were light-hearted banter put forward by a group of boys."

JUDGE SLAMS TEEN'S EVIDENCE

Keenan blasted the teen's evidence, calling him "not a reliable witness," and adding he has some social and developmental problems. He did not blame those problems on Sclater.

Keenan pointed to the allegation of the boy having his hands on Sclater's bum during a school Valentine's dance as proof the story was being made up as he went along.

The boy didn't mention to anyone what he called the "most significant sexual experience" in his life at that point until the preliminary hearing, two years after the alleged event.

A Feb. 15 note between Sclater, who was teaching a Grade 7-8 class at the time, and the boy was formal, not in the teen slang of later notes. The note was signed "Mrs. Sclater" not "Love, Mrs. Sclater" or "your woman," like many others.

Other adults testified the boy did not touch Sclater's bum during the dance.

Keenan also ripped the boy's mother for pressuring the teen's best friend to fabricate events she believed had happened because her son was "all messed up." His criticism included Crown Frank Faveri, who didn't put the boy's mom on the stand to tell her version of events.

She left the courtroom quickly, and in tears.

Sclater goes before the Ontario College of Teachers Oct. 24-25 to try and get her teaching suspension lifted.

Copyright © 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc.