TORONTO — A high school teacher convicted by Canada’s top court of voyeurism for secretly video recording female students with a pen camera has been handed a six-month jail term.
In his decision, Superior Court Justice Andrew Goodman rejected a defence plea for a conditional sentence, saying it would be contrary to the public interest.
“This offence can be classified as a breach of trust perpetrated on young female adolescents,” Goodman wrote. “The significant denunciatory effect of jail is required.”
Police in London, Ont., charged Ryan Jarvis with voyeurism for recordings he made in 2010 and 2011 as he chatted with 27 female students aged 14 to 18.
In November 2015, Goodman blasted the English teacher’s behaviour as “morally repugnant and professionally objectionable.” Nevertheless, Goodman acquitted him on the basis that, while the students had an expectation of privacy at school, the teacher had no sexual purpose.
The Court of Appeal in a split decision disagreed with Goodman, but nevertheless upheld the acquittal in October 2017. While Jarvis’s recordings of the chest areas of the clothed students were obviously sexual, the appellate court said, the students had no reasonable expectation of privacy.
The Supreme Court of Canada, however, ruled unanimously in February that a student would not expect to be singled out by a teacher to become the subject of a secretive, minutes-long recording focusing on her body. The high court, dealing with the offence of voyeurism for the first time, convicted Jarvis and sent the case back to Goodman for sentencing.
In his sentencing decision on Tuesday, Goodman noted the impact Jarvis’s actions had on his victims, such as feeling betrayed, having their trust in authority damaged, or being left traumatized.
“It had lasting effects on me, even to this day, nine years later,” M.W., who was a 14-year-old student when Jarvis videoed her, said in a victim impact statement. “It has had an effect on my relationships with men, even today.”
In crafting his sentence, Goodman also rejected the prosecution call for a 12-to-18-month term for the first-time offender. The judge noted that supporters, such as his parents, partner and friends, described Jarvis as considerate, caring and always ready to help others in need.
“My first question to him was, ‘Did you do it?’” a friend, Christopher See, wrote in a submission to the court. “Ryan did not hesitate. ‘Yes,’ he responded. ‘I didn’t think anyone would get hurt. It was stupid, wrong, and I shouldn’t have done it’.”
Nevertheless, Goodman was adamant that a strong message needed to be sent. Cameras, cellphones and other devices capable of recording people without their knowledge or consent are everywhere, he noted.
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“In my view, this increases the need for sending a message to the general public that taking pictures of individuals in compromising positions — for example, women who might be wearing a top that is loose or showing cleavage — is inappropriate,” Goodman said. “That is what Mr. Jarvis did, repeatedly and with guile.”
In addition to jail time, Goodman placed Jarvis on probation for 12 months during which time he can’t have contact with any of his victims.
Jarvis was stripped of his licence to teach in April after he admitted to professional misconduct. The discipline committee of the Ontario College of Teachers found he had abused his position of trust and authority egregiously.
“He took advantage of the fact that he had access to young female students and he recorded videos of their breasts and cleavage for a sexual purpose,” the committee said. ”(His) criminal conduct was sexually abusive and completely unacceptable.”