An Abbotsford religion teacher was found guilty today (Wednesday) in New Westminster Supreme Court of sending suggestive text messages to a female student in January 2009.
Martin Careen, 51, was convicted of invitation to sexual touching (sexual exploitation). A previous charge of communicating via a computer to lure a child was stayed in January.
Sentencing will take place at a later date, not yet scheduled.
Careen was a teacher at St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary – a private Catholic school – when he had a text conversation with a 17-year-old student in the late evening and early morning of Jan. 27 and 28, 2009.
At first, the texts addressed an upcoming history exam and other school work, but they became sexual in nature.
Justice Terrence Schultes, in his reasons for judgment, read a series of the messages.
“Can you crawl through my window? I will do whatever you want,” Careen wrote in one.
In another, Careen described how he wanted their encounter to transpire: “I want it to be first-class – first-class hotel, champagne and good sex.”
Schultes acknowledged that the student participated in the conversation and exhibited her own “inappropriate behaviour,” but Careen was much older and in a position of trust.
Careen previously testified that he usually left his cellphone on the kitchen table to charge during the evening, and others – including his two teenage sons – had access to the device.
A 30-page transcript of text messages sent from and received on his cellphone was presented during the trial, which began last September and had numerous delays in the proceedings.
Careen denied sending any of the suggestive messages, but did admit to being the author of other texts to the complainant and to different students.
Schultes said he found it “implausible” that someone else would have sent the suggestive messages. He said all the texts accessed on Careen’s phone had similar patterns – such as “routinely, almost universally” ending in exclamation marks and using the phrase “ha ha.”
They also used a “common paternal tone” that likely would not be easily mimicked by someone else, he said.
Schultes also did not believe that texts from Careen on Jan. 29 were credible in which he said he did not know what the student was talking about when she questioned him about the suggestive notes sent the day before.
The denial texts were merely a “sober second thought” to cover his own improper behaviour, Schultes said.
Careen was suspended without pay from his teaching position when the charges were laid in July 2009.
Doug Lauson, superintendent of the Catholic Independent Schools of Vancouver Archdiocese (CISVA), said CISVA took some criticism for the decision at the time because Careen was a popular teacher, but the priority was “ensuring the safety of children.”
Following his conviction, Careen is no longer permitted to work in the Catholic school system, Lauson said.
He said the case has been difficult for the Catholic and school community.
“It’s very tough … when something like this happens because it’s just not expected.”