Edmonton

Judge to decide sex assault case against suspended Edmonton junior high music teacher

Closing arguments were heard Monday in the Alyssa Tungul sexual assault case. Tungul, 30 is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old student in 2016. She also faces one count of unlawful touching.

Alyssa Tungul’s lawyer claims accused is victim who should be acquitted

Alyssa Tungul pictured on the date of her arrest by Edmonton police in May 2019. (Court exhibit/Edmonton Police Service)

An Edmonton judge must decide if a suspended junior high music teacher is guilty of sexually assaulting her student or if she was the victim of sexual assault. 

Alyssa Tungul is charged with sexual assault and unlawful touching. It's alleged that between June 1 and Nov. 30, 2016, Tungul sexually assaulted a 15-year-old male student. She was 26 at the time.

In Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench on Monday, Justice Susan Bercov heard closing arguments from the Crown and defence.  

A publication ban protects the identity of the student who is now 20. 

Tungul admitted she had sexual intercourse with the student once in her cousin's basement, but she testified he forced himself on her without warning and she did not consent to it. 

"It all happened very quickly," defence lawyer Brian Vail said. "She was afraid if she went to police she would not be believed — that they would think because she's the adult, she's the aggressor." 

Tungul also testified that on a later occasion, she agreed to pick up the student from school and began to perform oral sex on him at his insistence until she changed her mind and refused to continue.

She said she told him soon after that encounter that she no longer wanted to see him. 

Tungul's lawyer asked the judge to find his client not guilty. 

"Her evidence raises at least a reasonable doubt about whether she was the victim," Vail said. 

"Her evidence was credible and reliable and was not shaken in cross-examination." 

'He was a vulnerable 15-year-old child'

But the version of events told by Tungul's former student was dramatically different. He said she was the aggressor and he was the victim of sexual assault. He said they had intercourse three times along with a number of other intimate encounters that took place in her vehicle. 

Crown prosecutor Damon MacLeod said there was a significant power imbalance between Tungul and her student. 

"She was in control," MacLeod said. "He was a vulnerable 15-year-old child … Teachers don't fraternize with their teenage students outside of school hours. They don't exchange Snapchat messages with their students." 

MacLeod asked the judge to consider what he called Tungul's "startling lack of professionalism," calling some of her behaviour "outrageous". 

"Why would a teacher sneak a student into her cousin's basement?" MacLeod said. "That behaviour is consistent with a teacher who is trying to hide a sexual relationship with a student." 

MacLeod urged the judge to accept the student's version of events and find Tungul guilty. 

"Alyssa Tungul's evidence was carefully contrived and implausible," MacLeod said. "She's a teacher with all of the obligations and responsibilities and privileges acting in a way that makes absolutely no sense for a teacher to act." 

The judge is hoping to deliver her decision sometime in June. No firm date has been set. 

Tungul is not in custody. She was suspended with pay in December 2018 after Edmonton police told Edmonton Catholic Schools about its investigation. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

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