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Former teacher sentenced to 33 months for child luring

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A former teacher faces 33 months in prison for child luring.

Kevin Braun, 31, a married teacher who was expecting his first child, met the then 14-year-old female victim when he was a substitute Grade 7 teacher according to a recording of his sentencing.

He then became her Grade 8 home room teacher, and eventually, her high school basketball coach. The summer before Grade 9 commenced, Braun reached out to the victim over Instagram and exchanged thousands of Instagram and text messages between 2019 and 2020, with communication occurring at “all times of day and night.”

Provincial Court Judge Cindy Sholdice, told court on Tuesday that Braun “was grooming her to be receptive to touching of a sexual nature. He used the communications to test her, gain her trust, to confess his love for her, to set up secret meetings, to engage in physical contact, to normalize and lengthen their physical contact, to praise her afterwards, and to constantly seek her reassurance.”

“It’s safe to say Mr. Braun’s actions did have an impact, not only on the victim, but also on her family in the community, especially given Mr. Braun was a trusted teacher and coach in a small community,” Sholdice said, adding that no victim impact statement had been filed in the case.

A psychological report mentioned in the sentencing hearing and presented by the defence said Braun had no sexual intent and that his explanation was he wanted to be “helpful” or “supportive” of the victim.

The report said Braun was not a risk to other teenagers or members of the community. However, Judge Sholdice, said the report did not review transcript findings from Braun’s 2023 trial.

Judge Sholdice noted Braun’s role as a respected teacher and high school coach allowed him trust with children.

“He chose to exploit his position to groom a child knowing full well what he was doing was wrong and that there would be serious consequences if caught.”

Braun was fired from his teaching position, and eventually voluntarily turned in his teaching licence. He had no prior offences. Braun is also prohibited from contacting the victim as well as any contact with people under the age of 16 who are not family members.

'Grooming can be a whole bunch of things'

Anne-Marie Robinson, co-founder of Stop Educator Child Exploitation, said she heard about the Braun sentencing hearing, and expressed concerns that child luring is still happening in schools.

“I just feel extremely sad that we're still hearing about this, which happens far too often. And I feel really worried for the victim. And I hope that that person gets the support that they need…” said Robinson.

The Braun case is one of several recent cases that have been brought to light in Manitoba.

On Apr. 8, 41-year-old Winnipeg teacher Amanda Rachelle Sherrett, was charged with sexual assault, and sexual exploitation, and luring a person under the age of 18.

None of the charges against her have been proven in court.

In March, a sentencing hearing was held for former high school football coach, Kelsey McKay, who pleaded guilty in July 2023 to nine counts of sexual assault and two counts of luring.

He is awaiting sentencing.

Robinson says there are some signs parents should be on the lookout for in order to best protect their children.

“Grooming can be a whole bunch of things," she said. "They might take them out in their car after work, or they might invite them to a restaurant, they might provide alcohol or drugs."

She said they may also initiate conversations about sex, trying to normalize the topic and make the student feel comfortable even though these are clear violations of the boundary in teacher-student relationships.

“They also commonly isolate the child from their friends, and sometimes their parents, and also make the child feel ashamed of what is happening,” said Robinson.

She notes it can often be difficult for victims to find the proper channels to seek out support.

“It's often not clear where they, or their parents, or other bystanders, can report,” she said, “People are encouraged first to go to the schools. In our view, the schools are really in a conflict of interest.”

Robinson said she wants to see an independent body set up to conduct investigations as a way to protect the victim and ensure objectivity.

“That’s where we believe the victim’s parents, as well as any bystanders in the school system, can go first to complain, or register concerns," she said, “Then completely independent professionals would be the ones to conduct the investigations, as well provide the support necessary for the victim,”

She said Canada should establish a registry for teachers who have abused students, which would be an important preventative measure in securing the safety of students.

“We think there should be a national database where anyone who's hiring people, for child-serving organizations can go and find people who should not be working with children.”

 With files from CTV's Charles Lefebvre

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