Sarnia teacher admits shame, remorse and regret at sentencing hearing for sexual assault against a student

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A Sarnia high school teacher who was found guilty sex charges after a relationship with his student says he lost “the thing he was meant to do.”

Tyler Shaw was found guilty of sexual assault and sexual exploitation in November.

Between April and July of 2020, Shaw, 36, and the student, who was 17 at the time, met in his car, his home and the girl’s home. His defense lawyer, Phillip Millar, said Shaw’s behaviour involved hand holding, cuddling and kissing and was “on the low end of the spectrum” for sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

Shaw was in court Jan. 26 for a sentencing hearing before Justice Kevin McHugh. While Assistant Crown Attorney Aniko Coughlan called for a 12 to 18 months in  jail followed by two years of probation, Millar wanted 90 days in jail for his client, with the possibility of it being served on weekends or on house arrest.

“He admits he broke the rules,” says Millar. “He admits he made a bad decision and he is dealing with the consequences.”

Shaw apologized to the court and accepted responsibility, saying he had “shame, remorse and regret.

“I lost my career, a career I love and the one thing I was meant to do,” he said, adding he expected to be fired once the court proceedings were done. There is a complaint filed against him at the Ontario College of Teachers which will also be heard after the sentencing.

Shaw added his actions had destroyed his family and his reputation. He’s also been threatened.

But the assistant crown attorney says Shaw’s minimizing his role in the ‘relationship’ shows a lack of understanding which may impact his rehabilitation. He abused his position of trust, says Coughlan, and it will have an impact on the community.

“Schools are a place where students learn and develop as young people,” Coughlin said. “Parents should not have to worry about teachers who engage in relationships like this.”

Justice McHugh will make a decision on the sentencing in February.