Tania Pontbriand gets 20-month sentence for sexually assaulting teen

An ex-high school teacher has been sentenced to 20 months in jail for sexually assaulting and sexually exploiting one of her students.

Tania Pontbriand was a 32-year-old gym teacher at Rosemere High School when she started a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student. He cannot be identified because he was underaged at the time.

The affair lasted between 2002 and 2004. Pontbriand was arrested in 2008 after the boy filed a police complaint a year earlier. Pontbriand was convicted this past January. She denies the accusations and is appealing the conviction.

Quebec Court Judge Valmont Beaulieu said right at the start of sentencing that Pontbriand must serve jail time because of the seriousness of the crimes.

Pontbriand was sentenced to 18 months for two counts of sexual exploitation and 20 months for sexual assault, to be served concurrently and to be followed by a two year probation.

Reading aloud part of his 65-page ruling, Quebec Court Judge Valmont Beaulieu emphasized the important relationship between students and their teachers who he says should serve as educators, mentors and role models. Beaulieu said the numerous sexual acts and locations where they were conducted over a two year period breached the trust not only between teacher and student but with the boy's mother, school officials and society.

Beaulieu said that in this case, "even if there was an absence of threats or physical violence, the Court believes (...) that there was psychological violence because an adult sexually exploited a young vulnerable victim."

Beaulieu said incarceration was the only appropriate sentence "to express society's disapproval over the accused's actions."

"Teachers and persons of authority have a very important role in society and it's important for them to follow the law," said crown prosecutor Caroline Lafleur.

"It is so important that even in the case of a teacher like her, you can still go to jail."

Pontbriand's lawyer was disappointed with the sentence.

"It was an excellent opportunity to give a conditional sentence in this kind of case," Hanan Mrani told reporters.

"We missed a good opportunity to do it."

Beaulieu also underlined the heavy media coverage that he said inconvenienced and had negative impacts on both Pontbriand and her victim.

Mrani said she believes it played heavily into the judge's ruling.

"The media coverage and the petitions circulating calling for a stiff sentence didn't help," Mrani told CJAD 800 News.

Pontbriand showed no emotion during the sentencing, looking right at the judge the whole time. But after a short court recess, she was seen wiping her eyes with tissues. A handful of supporters were on hand including her mother. The victim was not present but his mother was. She would not comment.

Pontbriand had asked for a seven-day delay to be with her partner and two young children before beginning her sentence but the judge refused the request because case law stipulates that the sentence must begin immediately.

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  1. ric posted on 08/29/2014 05:33 PM
    I fail to understand!!!
    She sexually assaults the boy for 2 years and gets less than that as a sentence. If we know our judicial system, she might even be out for Christmas.
  2. reid o'neill posted on 08/31/2014 02:13 PM
    people sexually aggressing their own children get off with less jail time. this was not an aggression, considering there was consent and no violence or threats. by the way, this was not a chid, but a young adult of almost 16.
  3. Elizabeth posted on 09/01/2014 11:54 AM
    We never got to hear her side of the story. She has appealed the verdict. There must be a good reason for it.
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