Nova Scotia

Former teacher David Harrison sentenced to 90 days for sexual exploitation

David Benjamin Harrison, 39, was sentenced on Wednesday. He had pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual exploitation involving a girl who was just 17 at the time.

'I felt dirty, gross, worthless,' woman said in her victim impact statement

David Benjamin Harrison arrives at Kentville court in May. The former Kings County teacher was sentenced Wednesday to 90 days in jail for sexual exploitation. (CBC)

A former Nova Scotia high school teacher has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for carrying on an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student.

David Benjamin Harrison, 39, had pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual exploitation involving a girl who was just 17 at the time. He was sentenced on Wednesday.

At his sentencing hearing in Nova Scotia Provincial Court in Kentville, the Crown read an agreed statement of facts into the record.

The statement detailed how the relationship began with emails between the teacher and the girl.

Agreed statement of facts

The court was told that they met on three occasions, once at a beach in Avonport, a second time in the parking lot of Horton High School and a third encounter which started at the Look Off in Blomidon and ended at the Old Orchard Inn.

In the first two encounters, court was told Harrison and the girl kissed.

On the third occasion, he fondled her under her clothes.

The contact stopped after the girl turned 18 and moved away to attend university out of province.

Victim impact statement

"I did not begin to accept that my relationship with Mr. Harrison was pedophilic until a year and a half later," the girl wrote in her victim impact statement.

She said she has struggled with depression and PTSD.

"I felt dirty, gross, worthless," she wrote. "I wanted to tear myself apart and every day I prayed to God that I could just be dead."

The girl attended court for Harrison's sentencing but did not speak

 She was flanked by friends and members of her family.

Family by victim's side

Her mother also filed a victim impact statement, describing her feeling of helplessness that she had been unable to protect her daughter.

"I think she's a strong individual, coming forth and making this application and then coming to see what the outcome was and being very involved in things," Crown prosecutor Bob Morrison said after the hearing wrapped up.

"I think she's doing very well and is a very strong, admirable young woman."

Once the girl went to police, they obtained warrants and seized Harrison's phone and other devices.

They found emails that corroborated the girl's story.

'A series of horrendous mistakes'

Harrison now sports a bushy beard and hid behind sunglasses on his way into court — a stark contrast to his appearance during his time as a science teacher at Northeast Kings Education Centre.

Harrison addressed the court just before the judge passed sentence.

He said shame and cowardice prevented him from trying to reach out to his victim and try to make amends sooner.

"I made a series of horrendous mistakes," Harrison told the judge.

"I know I don't deserve forgiveness. I will spend the rest of my life atoning for what I have done."

Harrison's lawyer, Joel Pink, said his client's teaching career is over.

"Well, needless to say it's had a devastating effect on him as you heard. He's presently separated from his wife and two children, even though he gets to see his two children and they're trying to work things out," Pink said outside court.

Sentencing

The 90-day sentence was a joint recommendation of Crown and defence.

Harrison will serve an intermittent sentence, reporting to the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Centre in Dartmouth at 7 p.m. on Friday evening and being released the following Monday at 6 a.m.

The sentence will begin on the Canada Day weekend.

When Harrison is not in jail, he will be on probation.

In addition, he his DNA is being added to a national data base and his name will be placed on the national sex offender registry for ten years.

Two other charges that Harrison faced were withdrawn after his sentencing.

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