Warning: This series contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.
Episode 1: The Ghost
Anne-Marie Robinson headed down into a dark, dank church basement for her first community band practice. She was nervous but excited. Robinson was in her 50s and she hadn’t played in a band since she was in high school. Back then, it had been her dream to become a professional musician. She was talented and driven, and soon became the music teacher’s favourite. But it wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted. The teacher bought her alcohol and took her to his hotel room on a school band trip. Decades later, she thought playing in a band would be fun, to help her unwind from her high-profile job. At her first practice, the conductor introduced two new members. Robinson and her former band teacher. It was like seeing a ghost.
Episode 2: Time capsule
Robinson stored her painful memories deep in her mind, like a time capsule never to be opened. But after she saw him, the memories came flooding back. She decided the best way to deal with it would be to confront the former teacher. She arranged to meet up with him for a coffee. But at that meeting, he spoke first, telling her she had been the love of his life. She froze. Robinson had a breakdown, quit her job and was finally forced to face the years of trauma. It led Robinson on a journey to discover what happened and eventually report it to police.
Episode 3: Seeking justice
A video camera perched high on the wall of a police interview room captured the conversation between a Toronto police detective and Robinson. More than a year after Robinson went to police, her former teacher, William Douglas Walker, was charged with a sex crime. He’d eventually face the charge of rape. Robinson told the police the teacher asked her to keep the relationship secret. At 16, Robinson said she felt under his control and she didn’t want him to get in trouble. Initially, Walker decided to represent himself and pleaded guilty, then he changed his mind. After four and half years before the courts a judge said there wasn’t enough proof she hadn’t consented to sex with her teacher. The case was dismissed.
Episode 4: Hello powerful woman
Lawyer and women’s advocate, Pamela Cross, calls what happened to Robinson a “miscarriage of justice.” Robinson agrees the judge who presided over her case got it wrong. She can’t help but think if she wasn’t alone — if she knew there were other victims — the outcome of the criminal case would have been different. Robinson discovers the name of the other survivor — a teacher in British Columbia. She sends her a message and the other survivor responds right away. Her message: “Hello Powerful Woman.” Robinson says she’s finally met her hero, the woman who got the teacher banned.
Episode 5: The blip
The desk in Jeanie McKay’s teenage bedroom had 56 little notches: one mark for every time she had sexual intercourse with her music teacher. That desk would become evidence, many years after high school, when McKay launched a complaint with the Ontario College of Teachers. Soon after Robinson finds McKay, the two women get to know each other and discover they have been living parallel lives. McKay went to the police, but no charges were laid so she took her complaint to the college. In 2001 Walker was found guilty of professional misconduct and banned from teaching. In his message to the college he said, “It’s been an honour to be a teacher and except for this blip, I think I did a good job.” McKay tells Robinson they weren’t Walker’s only blips.
Episode 6: The diaries
Back in high school, Jackie Short did something neither Robinson nor McKay felt they could do. She kept detailed diaries. Short also knew the teacher made sexual advances to multiple students. And at the same time, he was courting a woman: another teacher who would become his wife. McKay says she and her teacher “made out” on his wedding night. Short was 16 in 1980 when she wrote in her diary after the teacher asked her out: “It’s a date. A rush of horror, sickness and fear went through me like I can’t describe. I really didn’t know what to think.” On a band trip to Germany in 1982, Short told an administrator what was going on with the teacher and teenage girls at their high school.
Episode 7: The club no one wanted to join
It’s a warm July afternoon when women from different parts of the country get together at the Toronto home of one of the survivors. It’s the inaugural meeting of “the club no one wanted to join.” These five women say as teens they were sexually harassed, exploited, assaulted or raped by the same music teacher. The host says the teacher had sex with her while she was intoxicated on a band trip to Montreal in 1987. It was exactly 10 years after Robinson’s eerily similar experience. Another woman who joined the club was just 14 when she says she became the first known victim of the music teacher in 1974. The survivor says her friend was also a victim and that girl’s father punched the music teacher in the face. The women want to find the man who threw the punch.
Episode 8: The Punch
On a trip to Toronto, Robinson stops in to see Sam, the man who punched the teacher in 1975. He says his 16-year-old daughter had sexual encounters with her high school music teacher. When he found out, he went to the school principal to report what had happened. Former students say Walker left the school and never came back. The next fall, the music teacher ended up at Robinson’s school. He told her about being punched by an angry father. But the teacher also said he hadn’t done anything with the man’s daughter. The story about the punch made Robinson initially feel sorry for Walker. But now she knows what really happened.
Episode 9: If they were boys
After 35 years, another woman decides to report to police what happened to her in high school. The detective appears to take the allegations seriously, but the news isn’t good. She’s the third victim to have gone to the police about the same music teacher. None of the detectives link the cases. There has been no conviction. In the first season of The Band Played On, 10 men came forward to tell police they were sexually abused as teens by one teacher. They saw their former teacher led away in handcuffs and taken to prison. These women don’t understand how there can be a double standard. Why don’t the same laws apply?
Episode 10: Taking back control
Robinson reveals the advocacy work that has thrust her back into her comfortable position of policy developer. This time, she has teamed up with Peter Hamer from the first season of The Band Played On, to form a group called Stop Educator Child Protection. It proposes new policies and laws. Meanwhile, the former teacher has responded to Ireton, explaining he won’t be available for an interview. Instead he offers a letter. The letter leaves the survivors angry and unsatisfied. But Robinson takes a trip back to her old high school, gets back her power and reveals what the investigation has given her.
Behind the scenes
Top illustration by Jodi Sandler. Episode illustrations by Duk Han Lee.