Nova Scotia·CBC INVESTIGATES

Nova Scotia has investigated 62 teachers for inappropriate conduct in 15 years

The Nova Scotia government has acted against 62 teachers in the past 15 years over allegations of inappropriate conduct, CBC News has learned

1 student describes '8 years of torture' in teacher sexual exploitation case

The Nova Scotia government has acted against 62 teachers in the past 15 years over allegations of inappropriate conduct, CBC News has learned

Figures obtained through a CBC News investigation shows most of those allegations were sexual in nature; 26 involved sexual misconduct, which includes sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual impropriety and sexual misconduct.

Of those cases, 24 resulted in teachers losing their certificates, while two people got indefinite suspensions.

Another 12 cases involved inappropriate relationships, touching or communications. There were six pornography cases, which all resulted in the cancellation of teaching certificates.

The remaining 18 cases involve allegations not covered by the previous categories.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development wouldn't provide more specific information on the locations or nature of these offences for fear of violating the province's freedom of information and protection of privacy rules.

Conviction overturned

But one of the five cases the department investigated in 2008 involved former Dartmouth high school teacher Antoine Fraser. He was accused of carrying on an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

Fraser was convicted of sexual exploitation in a 2009 jury trial. He was also fired from his teaching job and had his teaching certificate cancelled.

But Fraser's original defence lawyer did such a bad job of representing him in that trial, the conviction was overturned by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

That court ordered a new trial, but the girl did not want to testify a second time, so the charge against Fraser was withdrawn in 2012.

Fraser subsequently tried to get his job back. The Halifax Regional School Board was ready to fight Fraser and enlisted the help of the girl and her father. She's in her early 20s now and was prepared to testify against him.

Identities protected

Just a few weeks ago, Fraser told the board he was abandoning his efforts to reclaim his job.

When the woman and her father learned of Fraser's decision, they approached CBC news and agreed to tell their story.

In its figures, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development said it took action against 89 per cent of the teachers it investigated, either cancelling their teaching certificates or suspending them indefinitely.

Their identities are still protected by the publication ban from the original trial.

"Amazing," the woman said from her new home in Western Canada.  "I couldn't stop crying for hours. It's eight years of torture done."

Fraser was a very popular teacher. The woman says when people learned she'd made a criminal complaint against him, she faced a backlash.

"I was forced to transfer schools all the way across town, almost an hour's bus ride there and back, just because people started crowding me in the hallways and threatening to beat me up and what not, because he was such a popular teacher. They all thought I was lying about it."

Expensive place to live

Even changing schools didn't bring the woman peace of mind. She was afraid of running into Fraser or others who knew about the case anywhere she went. She first relocated to another part of Nova Scotia. Then she and her entire family moved out west.

"Coming out here it was shocking, to say the least," her father told CBC News.

"It's a very expensive place to live. Housing costs are outrageous, and everything else, so we've had to adjust our lifestyles to be able to afford to live here. But at the end of the day, when you're doing something for family, it's money and we would have done it whatever the cost."

The father first became suspicious about his daughter's relationship with Fraser when she started doing babysitting jobs for him and yet never had any money. The father says he started playing detective.

"I was renting vehicles because the teacher knew my vehicle and I was following him around trying to get a picture of him picking my daughter up in a strange place or dropping her off in a strange place or something like that," he said.

Teaching in Middle East

"I feel bad because I was spying on her. But if I hadn't been doing that, this would never have come to light, or it may never have come to light … as fast as it did."

The woman says she feels a lot better now.

"I'm so happy," she said. "I get up in the morning knowing that it's not going to come up again and bite me in the rear. I'm me again.  I'm finally me and I'm happy, my soul's happy. It's a great feeling."

CBC News attempted to reach Fraser for this story. He did not respond. At last report, he is teaching English in the Middle East.

At his trial, he was adamant that he did nothing wrong. He testified that his only involvement with the woman was to help her with school assignments and give her babysitting jobs.

In its figures, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development said it took action against 89 per cent of the teachers it investigated, either cancelling their teaching certificates or suspending them indefinitely.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca

now