NEWS

B.C. teacher sex trial hears final witnesses

03/24/2012 02:21 EDT | Updated 05/24/2012 05:12 EDT

The trial of a former Vernon, B.C., teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a Grade 7 student will end with final arguments from lawyers on Tuesday.

Defendant Deborah Ashton did not take the stand in her own defence Friday as her trial on five sex-related charges heard its final testimony. Instead, Ashton's lawyer called only two witnesses, Ashton's brother and her daughter.

The testimony that each provided conflicted with what the alleged victim told the Vernon, B.C., court when the trial got under way March 5.

Ashton’s brother said the student, who he described as a “skinny teenager,” stayed at their parent's home in Metro Vancouver while attending basketball tournament in 2003.

The alleged victim testified he stayed for two nights over the Labour Day weekend. But the brother said it was only for one night and was in July.

Ashton's daughter then told the court she saw her mother give the alleged victim a hug in the kitchen of their home but not a kiss as the man, now 22, had testified.

Defence lawyer Terry La Liberte told reporters outside court that there was no need for his client to testify.

Ashton did testify last year in her first trial, which ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury.

"I don't see she has to get on the stand in a case like this,” La Liberte said. “I'm trying to show the weaknesses in the Crown’s case and that this young man's evidence is unreliable."

The Crown alleges the two-year affair began in 2002, when the 12-year-old was a Grade 7 student taught by Ashton, then 37.

Charges were laid in 2008 after an anonymous letter alleging the affair was sent to school district officials.

La Liberte accused Ashton’s ex-husband, Mike Jellema, of writing the letter out of revenge at a time when the marriage was crumbling, which he denied in his testimony.

On Friday it was revealed in court that someone from inside the school system, not Jellema, had recently confessed to the RCMP that they had written the letter.

This second trial is being heard by a Supreme Court Justice without a jury.

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