Former N.S. high school teacher pleads guilty to assaulting student
2 other charges against Derek William Stephenson to be dealt with next month
A former Nova Scotia high school teacher has pleaded guilty to assaulting a student in a Halifax-area classroom in October 2018.
Derek William Stephenson, 43, entered the guilty plea Wednesday morning in Dartmouth provincial court at what was supposed to be the start of a three-day trial on charges of assault, mischief and breach of probation.
The other two charges will be dealt with when Stephenson is sentenced Dec. 2.
"There is an understanding between the Crown and the defence that the two other charges, one of mischief and one of breach of probation, will be withdrawn at the time, or be dismissed at the time my client is sentenced," defence lawyer Joel Pink said outside court Wednesday.
The incident between Stephenson and a 15-year-old boy came to light with a four-second cellphone video that was widely distributed on social media.
Video taken by student
The video was taken by a student who witnessed the confrontation.
It shows Stephenson kneeling and putting the student in a chokehold. The student was not injured in the encounter.
Pink said the video played no part in his decision to recommend a guilty plea.
"I was satisfied, after a thorough review of the facts, that my client would, in fact, be found guilty of the assault charge, based on what he has told me and based on what the police reports said," Pink said.
Background checks for teachers
As a result of this case and others where teachers were accused of inappropriate or illegal conduct with students, the provincial government introduced a policy requiring criminal background checks for teachers.
Stephenson has two prior convictions for violent incidents involving his ex-wife and his girlfriend. He received conditional discharges in both cases.
Pink said there will be a joint sentencing recommendation when the case returns to court next month. He said he does not believe Stephenson will be going to jail.
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