A former Catholic elementary school teacher in Essex County, Ont., who sexually assaulted two of his students, has been sentenced to six months in jail.
Antonio Raco, 53, was convicted in Windsor in October of two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference for incidents that happened in the early 1990s.
Judge Steven Rogin sentenced Raco in Ontario Superior Court on Monday to six months in jail, despite a request from the defence that Raco receive a conditional sentence. Rogin said he delivered a jail sentence partly because a pre-sentence report indicated Raco didn't feel he'd done anything wrong and that he shouldn't be facing criminal charges.
Actions tarnish teaching profession, says judge
Raco was arrested in 2003 while teaching at St.William Catholic Elementary School in Emeryville on charges stemming from incidents between 1991 and 1993.
At that time Raco was a teacher at Brebeuf Catholic Elementary School in Stoney Point, which has since been renamed Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Elementary School.
The two girls involved were 13 and 14 years old at the time, and later came forward to Ontario Provincial Police in Lakeshore.
Court heard Raco unbuttoned the blouse of one student and then french kissed her, acts the judge said violated Raco's position of trust, and tarnished the entire teaching profession.
Raco's lawyer, Bill Markle, presented 32 letters of recommendation from family and friends attesting to his client's character.
Markle said he was somewhat surprised the judge still ordered Raco to serve jail time.
"I really thought that submissions on both sides would suggest something in the middle between a conditional sentence, which means he would have to serve it at home under strict conditions, and six months, which was being asked for by the Crown," said Markle.
Assistant Crown Attorney Kim Bertholet said she was happy with the sentence, noting that it was in line with punishments in similar Ontario cases.
Three years probation
As Raco was led from the Ontario Superior Court Monday afternoon he blew a kiss to his family.
After completing his jail sentence, he will pay a $100 fine and spend three years on probation.
Raco cannot teach anyone under 16 years old and cannot contact any of the complainants, their families or those who testified in the case.
He must submit a DNA sample and can't own a weapon for 10 years.