This story has been updated with more information.
A two-day sentencing hearing began on Monday for a former West Kelowna teacher who pleaded guilty earlier this year to having relations with one of his students.
Bradley Furman was a teacher at Mount Boucherie Secondary School while pursuing a relationship with a student, which consisted of at least nine acts of sexual intercourse and two instances of oral sex, occurring in both Furman’s classroom and home.
The Grade 12 student, who was 17 years old at the time, has not been identified.
The Crown is seeking a 71-month sentence, less 167 days for time served.
Crown counsel David Grabavac told the court the relationship began when the girl was 17 and Furman was 28. They began speaking on social media during spring break in 2018. Topics of discussion included video games of mutual interest as well as Furman’s marital issues, to which the girl provided advice.
“This is not a Hallmark channel love story,” Grabavac said.
“It’s not two teenagers; it’s not two people on a level playing field.
“It was a calculated, deliberate attack for (Furman’s) own sexual gratification.”
Grabavac spent much of Monday vaguely poring through thousands of messages between the two, which he described as increasingly sexual as conversations progressed.
The Crown requested the sealing of details of the messages for the duration of the sentencing hearing. Grabavac, however, referenced messages in which Furman asked the girl for nude photos and other instances of sexting.
The relationship’s secrecy unravelled as Furman called the girl out of two classes on May 1, 2018. This prompted suspicion from Furman’s co-workers, who brought the matter to school administrators.
Upon watching security footage of the two walking “too close,” the school’s principal and vice-principal had conversations with Furman and the girl separately.
The girl told the principal of the messages and the eventual progression into a sexual relationship.
Furman was asked by school administrators to show the messages but he refused. According to the Crown, the school’s principal told Furman he would be fired if he destroyed the communications.
Grabavac said there is evidence he attempted to do precisely that.
Grabavac alleged following the conversations with the administration, Furman asked the girl to delete all correspondence and the associated accounts.
Investigators subsequently obtained 2,700 pages of messages, some of which point to the relationship continuing for another 13 months after the initial arrest in May 2018.
Since then, Furman has been arrested four times for breaching conditions of his bail, specifically for making contact with the girl and members of her family. Grabovac said Furman had lied 122 times about disobeying court orders.
The girl initially participated in the continuation of the relationship, admitting she thought his actions came from a place of love and even proposing to the courts in a Nov. 1, 2018 letter that contact should be allowed to be re-established.
“I’m not the victim and I’ve never felt victimized by any of Bradley’s actions,” she wrote.
“I do appreciate the relationship was not a legal one at the time. From my perspective, the relationship between Bradley and I developed naturally under unforeseen circumstances.”
A change-of-heart came by October 2019 when the girl submitted a victim impact statement describing the detrimental effect Furman had on her life, including trauma-related depression, self-harm and suicidal tendencies.
Part of that statement addressed Furman directly.
“I hope you are satisfied with the impact this has had on my life,” she wrote.
“You will be going to jail and your life is basically screwed, as far as I’m concerned. You had a hold on me throughout the year and I’m pleased to say your hold is no more. Maybe, in time, I will forgive you for what you’ve done to me but for now, I hate you.
“I have a family who supports me, so I don’t need the absolute mess that is your life in my life, so stay away from me. You are a sick twisted human being.”
Grabovac continued, reading statements from the victim’s family and school administrators, highlighting the breadth of impact this had on the people surrounding the relationship. Statements from the school cited many staff were affected at various levels and the incident has cast a shadow over the school district, prompting distrust from students and parents.
Furman sat in the prisoner’s box in a red prison-issued jumper, appearing calm and straight-faced throughout Monday’s proceedings.
Furman pleaded guilty to charges of sexual exploitation of a young person, attempting to pervert justice and three charges of breaching bail conditions. A plea deal was struck with the Crown to stay charges of sexual assault and luring a child.
The defence will make its submissions as the sentencing hearing continues tomorrow.
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