07/26/2013 08:36 EDT | Updated 09/25/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. teacher cleared in sex case says trials ruined life

A Vernon, B.C., teacher who was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a student says her five-year legal ordeal has devastated her career and her finances.

Deborah Ashton, 48, was acquitted on two counts of perjury in the B.C. Supreme Court in Vernon on Friday, 16 months after she was acquitted on charges she had sex with a Grade 7 student.

A previous trial on the sex charges resulted in a hung jury.

"There were times we felt these charges were outrageous and we had no chance of battling back against them. And it hurt," Ashton told reporters outside the court in her first public comments on the accusations made against her.

Ashton says her three trials have cost her nearly $100,000. Paired with losing her career, she says she's financially ruined.

"The financial devastation is one, it's quite another thing to have the profession you love taken from you," she said.

But the former elementary school teacher says she can finally move on with her life, now that she has been cleared of all allegations.

"It's been such a long road. All I have today is an opportunity to thank the people who stood by me right from the beginning," she said.