Former (female) teacher acquitted of sexual exploitation

Gordon Kent The Edmonton Journal National Post
December 14, 2000

Former teacher acquitted of sexual exploitation of student Alberta couple was deeply in love, defence lawyer says

ST. PAUL, Alta. - Jocelyn Jaster, a former elementary school teacher, sobbed yesterday after a jury found her not guilty of sexual exploitation for her love affair with a 17-year-old high school student.

Ms. Jaster, 28, cried and hugged a friend when the nine-woman, three-man jury announced its verdict following 90 minutes of deliberation.

Ms. Jaster told reporters she was relieved the case is over.

"It's been incredibly devastating and I'm just trying to put my life back together."

Now studying Web design in Edmonton, she admitted the affair was wrong: "It was a stupid thing to do. It changed my life."

Ms. Jaster began her romance with the teenager while going through a divorce a few years ago.

Too shy to say she liked him, she gave him a note suggesting they go out when he came to her classroom for a talk.

He towered over the tiny teacher.

The teenager testified the note outlined her "dreams of us," and Ms. Jaster kissed him on the lips.

Over the next three months, they spent most of their time together having sex at her house and in her car.

But in September, Ms. Jaster, pregnant with the teenager's baby left town after school officials found out what had happened.

The two-day case hinged on whether Ms. Jaster was in a position of authority over her lover.

Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg argued a teacher is in a special position toward any student at her school.

But defence lawyer Bob Aloneissi told jurors the teenager is a liar who gave false statements to police. Part of his reason for lying about the nature of the romance is so he can win a $150,000 lawsuit against Ms. Jaster, his former principal and the school board, Mr. Aloneissi said.

"It was a relationship and is only now being reassessed so [he] can make financial gain."

The teenager, who can't be identified under a court order, explained baseball to Ms. Jaster and he may have read to her from his favourite poet, Emily Dickinson. They went camping in Banff, and took trips to Saskatoon.

Far from being forced to go out with "little Jocelyn Jaster the elementary teacher," the couple was actually deeply in love, Mr. Aloneissi said.

They exchanged notes planning a life together, even though their families didn't approve.

Ms. Jaster hoped the baby would have its father's "eyes and fighting spirit."

The teenager wrote "they would be there for each other through thick and thin."

The teenager's mother testified yesterday she had a tense one-hour meeting with Ms. Jaster to find out what her intentions were when she learned of the pregnancy. While Ms. Jaster wanted to continue seeing the youth, she didn't want the school to know, the woman said.

"She didn't want to have a baby in jail."

The passion cooled once Ms. Jaster left town. A couple of months later, she called the teenager from Vancouver, where she was staying with her relatives, to tell him she had a miscarriage.

An official with the eastern Alberta school division that covers Ms. Jaster's former school said later her teaching certificate was revoked by the province.

The official said parents and students felt Ms. Jaster was a good teacher.

But sex between students and teachers isn't acceptable, he said.

He hopes teachers don't feel yesterday's verdict means sex is now allowed.

"We will continue to say to teachers ... [that] you do not enter into these kinds of relationships."

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