A Hastings Prince Edward District School Board teacher has pleaded guilty to seven of the 42 sex related charges against her involving male students, some under the age of 16.
On Tuesday, 37-year-old Jaclyn McLaren of Stirling entered a guilty plea on the charges of sexual exploitation, possessing child pornography, sexual interference, two counts of child luring and two counts of making explicit material available to a person under 16.
McLaren was working as the French teacher for Grades 6 to 8 at Tweed Elementary School from 2011 to 2015 when the incidents occurred. Six of the eight victims were students of hers during that time period. Four were under the age of 18 and four were under the age of 16.
On February 14, 2016, Central Hastings OPP launched an investigation into reports of sexual offences that led to the 42 charges including: multiple counts of sexual assault on a person under 16, sexual Interference with a person under 16, invitation to sexual touching under 16, sexual exploitation, luring a person under 16, making sexually explicit material available to a person under 16, making child pornography. Additional charges of making sexually explicit material available to a person under 16 and making sexually explicit material available to a person under 18 were laid in March 2016.
On Tuesday, court heard how McLaren was exchanging sexually explicit images and videos with the boys through social media. She bought two of the youths alcohol before having sexual encounters with them in her car. She also had sexual intercourse with one of the students after he reached the age of 18. She started sending him photos and videos when he was 15.
“Ms. McLaren engaged in sex acts on three different occasions with two of the boys while they were both under the age of 16,” said Assistant Crown Attorney Lynn Ross during her summary of the statement of fact. By engaging in the mutual exchange of naked photographs during Snapchat social media conversations with the boys, including former students, while they were under the age of 18, Ms. McLaren committed the offence of possessing child pornography.”
Justice Stephen Hunter ordered pre-sentencing and sexual offender assessment reports.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 19. Justice Hunter said he expects it will take two hours.
Ross said she and defence counsel Pieter Kort have an idea of what their sentencing range requests will be but for her it is still too premature to comment on what her submissions will be.
“I intend to be guided to a great extent by the recommendations of Dr. Tony Eccles,” explained Ross. “He has expertise and this is his bailiwick. I expect that we will hear some information about the different programming available in the provincial system (under two years) and in the federal system (over two years).”
She said seeking penitentiary time for McLaren is still on the table.
HPEDSB Communications Director Kerry Donnell was present in the courtroom.
The board released an official statement Tuesday afternoon.
“The matter is still before the courts and sentencing is yet to be determined. The board maintains confidential processes related to employee matters. The board acknowledges the sensitive nature of this case and the impact it has on all involved. No other details will be released at this time,” Mandy Savery-Whiteway, Director of Education.