Great Lakes teacher guilty of sexual assault

271

Alex Kurial/Local Journalism Initiative

A Great Lakes Secondary School teacher has been found guilty of sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

Tyler Shaw, 37, listened as Justice Kevin McHugh thoroughly rebuked his defence against claims he had five sexual encounters with an underage girl both while she was a student and after her graduation in 2020.

“I find his evidence to be self-serving, disingenuous, contrived and at times intentionally false,” says McHugh.

Shaw and Defence Lawyer Phillip Millar attempted to paint the girl as lacking credibility and said the teacher, who was married at the time, only had one sexual encounter with her.

But McHugh didn’t accept the argument, saying during testimony the girl “struck me as a mature and intelligent young woman. She was a measured and careful witness who would readily acknowledge when she was unsure on a particular point.

“There was nothing in her version of the events that unfolded that I found to be implausible,” he says.

That version outlined how the pair developed a relationship while she was a student in Shaw’s Grade 12 class. Following that meetings at her home, Shaw’s home and on country back roads, developed into sex. The girl testified these engagements happened five times, three while she was still a Great Lakes student and two in the summer.

McHugh dismantled Shaw’s defence throughout the Nov. 5 judgement, including his belief there was nothing wrong with meeting her outside of school. “There were any number of reasons not to. COVID restrictions about being with people from other households for one. The real possibility of marital discord if his wife were to find out about the clandestine rendezvous for two.

“And of course the potential of having to provide a difficult explanation to his employer were they to find out about them. The better question really is ‘why?’ as opposed to ‘why not?’ meet in person.”

When Shaw says it was the girl’s wishes, “This evidence was preposterous and I reject it out of hand,” the justice responded.

McHugh also concluded Shaw was in a position of trust toward the girl. “The entirety of their relationship had, at its genesis, the student-teacher dynamic… His actions were intentional, prolonged, measured, insidious and ultimately criminal… He touched the complainant in sexual circumstance having induced the complainant to engage therein by abusing his position of trust,” says McHugh.

Lambton Kent District School Board officials said after the verdict that Shaw has not been in the school since the allegations came to light. Because Shaw has been convicted, provincial law prohibits him from teaching again. The 2016 Protecting Students Act strips the teaching license of any teacher convicted of sexual offences, meaning Shaw will never return to the classroom in addition to his pending criminal punishment.

The Local Journalism Initiative supports the creation of original civic journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada.