Former Abbotsford teacher admits misconduct, peace bond issued

Robert (Tanner) Cervo appeared in Abbotsford provincial court on Friday

Tanner Cervo and his lawyer Claire Hatcher leave Abbotsford provincial court on Friday after a peace bond was issued against him.

Tanner Cervo and his lawyer Claire Hatcher leave Abbotsford provincial court on Friday after a peace bond was issued against him.

Former Abbotsford teacher Robert (Tanner) Cervo violated his position of trust in his misconduct with a student, a judge said today in proceedings that resulted in a peace bond being issued against Cervo.

Judge Gregory Brown said in Abbotsford provincial court that “boundaries were crossed” in Cervo’s behaviour.

Cervo, 38, agreed to sign the peace bond – often referred to in other jurisdictions as a restraining order – and the four criminal charges against him were stayed.

His trial, which was scheduled to begin Monday, will not proceed.

Cervo, formerly a teacher at Chief Dan George Middle School in Abbotsford, was charged in April 2013 with one count of sexual interference, one count of sexual assault and two counts of sexual exploitation.

Brown said he was surprised that the Crown opted to proceed with a peace bond rather than criminal charges.

Crown lawyer Sylvia Domaradzki told the court that the decision was made after “significant discussions” with all parties involved, including the 22-year-old complainant, who was a teen when the improprieties occurred.

She cannot be named due to a publication ban that protects her identity.

Domaradzki said the discussions took into account the “weaknesses and strengths” of the Crown’s case, the viewpoints of the complainant and the circumstances of the accused.

“All of us approached this as a suitable resolution in this matter,” Domaradzki said.

The one-year peace bond was approved by the judge and signed by Cervo under the grounds that Cervo’s actions caused the complainant “a fear of sexual assault.”

Cervo must now abide by several conditions, including no direct or indirect contact with the woman or her family.

Cervo is also prohibited from being alone with anyone under the age of 16 except family members or children of parents who have given their approval and must take counselling or other programs as directed by his supervisor.

The two sides also signed an “agreed statement of facts” which laid out the circumstances of the case but which was not read in court.

Defence lawyer Claire Hatcher touched on some of the details, saying the relationship between Cervo and the complainant began as teacher/student and then to a “family-type relationship.”

She did not discuss any of the specific misconduct that occurred, but said that Cervo has “great regret and remorse” for what took place.

“He has learned very, very hard lessons,” Hatcher said.

Outside of the courtroom, the complainant – who said she was 14 to 19 when the misconduct took place – and her family said they were pleased with the outcome of the case.

“It’s been hell for everyone involved. It’s time to move forward now,” the woman said.

She said she agreed with the issuing of the peace bond because it spared everyone the stress of a trial, which had no guaranteed outcome, and Cervo had to sign documents admitting to the facts.

“In the end, the truth comes out and it should speak for itself,” she said.

Cervo, a married father of four, was fired from his teaching job in Abbotsford in June 2013 and now works in another field. His teaching licence is suspended through the provincial Teacher Regulation Branch, which will now consider whether it should be revoked.

Cervo is also a provincial and international basketball referee, but has been prohibited from refereeing youth games for the last two years in B.C.