A former Abbotsford teacher was sentenced to a 60-day jail term on Wednesday for what the judge referred to as a “gross lapse of judgment” in sending sexual text messages to a student.
Martin Careen will serve his sentence over a 48-hour period when he is in the Lower Mainland, in order that he can continue to work.
Careen, 52, is no longer permitted to teach, and has been employed as an officer worker for an Alberta construction company. He spends two weeks out of town and one week at home.
Justice Terence Schultes also ruled that Careen, who was convicted last July of invitation to sexual touching (sexual exploitation), will be on probation during his time out of prison and for one year following the completion of his sentence.
A conviction for sexual exploitation carries a minimum 45-day jail term.
Crown counsel had recommended Careen serve nine to 12 months, while defence had suggested a sentence of 45 to 90 days.
Careen was a teacher at St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary – a private Catholic school – when he had a text conversation with a female student, then 17, 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.
In his ruling in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, Schultes said Careen’s sentence should be on the lighter end for such an offence because the texts in question were sent over a brief overnight period and were not ongoing.
He cited psychological assessments that indicated Careen was at a low risk to re-offend, adding he believed the conviction itself had been enough of a deterrent.
“He has lost a career that has meant everything to him and in which he made an ongoing significant contribution,” Schultes said.
Also weighing in Careen’s favour was his “sterling character,” Schultes said, referring to the 36 letters of support filed by parents, students, colleagues and his wife of more than 20 years.
However, Schultes said the offence was serious because Careen was in a position of trust at the time of the text exchange and his actions negatively impacted the victim. In her victim impact statement read last week during Careen’s sentencing hearing, the girl said she had been vilified by others who accused her of lying about the incident to police.
Schultes said Careen had made a “deliberate effort” to compose and send the messages.
“The language with which he addressed the student was deeply offensive.”
Among Careen’s conditions of his probation are that he not volunteer or work with girls under the age of 18 and that he complete any counselling recommended by his probation officer. This could include a sex offender treatment program.