Friday, October 13, 2006

Former Teacher Accused of 16 Sex Crimes

I knew I was seduced, says witness
Teacher introduced me to oral sex during school sailing trip

Susan Lazaruk, The Province
Published: Friday, October 13, 2006

A student of the former teacher accused of 16 sexual crimes against teenage girls broke down on the stand yesterday as she recounted the first time he seduced her, on a summer sailing trip.
The woman took a moment to compose herself and daubed her face with a tissue as she recalled that she begged off a side kayaking trip on the school-sponsored sailing trip to the Queen Charlottes in 1981 because she was suffering from hay fever. Instead, she engaged in oral sex on the boat with her teacher, Tom Ellison.
The striking blond accuser, who has just turned 40 and who, like most other complainants, wasn't identified, said Ellison agreed to stay behind with her so she wouldn't be alone, which led to him performing oral sex on her while she held a pillow over her head.
Another complainant was accused by the defence lawyer yesterday of making up her story, which included smoking marijuana and drinking wine as well as sexual activity with Ellison when she was as young as 14.
And that complainant's younger sister said that at 13 she smoked marijuana and drank Black Tower wine with Ellison.
She said a number of teachers at Prince of Wales Secondary on Vancouver's west side regularly handed out free drugs to students.
It was the third day of the Vancouver Provincial Court trial of Ellison, 63.
He has pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of gross indecency and four counts of indecent or sexual assault against 12 former students of Prince of Wales Secondary.
The defence isn't expected to dispute many of the allegations but plans to question the constitutionality of the the gross-indecency charge, which has been replaced by sexual assault in the Criminal Code.
On the 1981 trip, part of the experimental outdoor curriculum at Prince of Wales called Quest, Complainant No. 6 said she was lying down on Ellison's berth in the bow, where court heard he had slept with many of his female students.
Ellison, then 38, asked the then-16-year-old if she wanted a massage, which was part of the pattern he had used leading up to alleged sexual activity with other girls.
She agreed and said Ellison massaged her and took off her clothing, and they kissed.
"This incident led to my first experience of oral sex, which Tom performed on me at the time," she said.
Ellison, six feet tall and excessively thin, sat upright in his chair and stared ahead or down during her testimony, occasionally looking sideways at her.
She told court she remembered after the experience feeling "special" and that she was "infatuated" with him.
The witness said that on that occasion, and on the 10 occasions that oral sex was repeated the following autumn on Ellison's live-aboard boat in False Creek, she put a pillow over her head.
"I didn't want to be seen or heard, and it felt safer," she said, weeping. "Because it felt wrong, because he's a teacher and I was a student."
She said Ellison told her he loved her, but she ended the trysts when she discovered he had also been sexually involved with her best friend, another complainant,
Laura Anderson, who testified on Tuesday.
When they found out about one another, the pair confronted him at his boat, once after high school and again in the mid-1990s.
"You now know for sure you weren't the only one, you weren't that special," said defence lawyer Bill Smart in cross-examination, suggesting a motive for the first confrontation.
He also pointed out, as he has with the other complainants, her willingness and consent.
"You rode your bike down to his boat in order to have him perform oral sex on you," he said.
And Smart noted Ellison didn't pressure her to perform oral sex on him or engage in intercourse after she resisted one attempt."I knew I was seduced," she said angrily. "It was a very, very manipulative, clever seduction. I was very much infatuated and I was very much looking for that type of attention."
Smart noted she and Anderson confronted Ellison in the 1990s only after they learned he wouldn't be charged at that time, in the early stages of the criminal investigation.
"I wanted him to know that I knew [our relationship wasn't exclusive] and that this was something he was never going to forget," Complainant No. 6 told the court.
"I remember telling him I was much more clear after having two children myself, two girls, of the impact of his actions."
Earlier, Complainant No. 4 came under repeated fire from Smart about details of her story.
"I suggest none of that happened," he said after she seemed to contradict her own testimony.
"You can suggest that, but you'd be wrong," she shot back.
Unlike with Complainant No. 6, during this cross-examination, Ellison leaned back in his chair facing the woman, with his arms crossed and a smirk on his face.
Also yesterday, Complainant No. 5 testified that Ellison physically removed her panties when she refused to strip for skinny dipping on a sailing trip with him and other students in the summer after she graduated.
She also told court she slept with Ellison on his boat on that trip and both gave each other full-body naked massages that included her breasts but not their genital areas.
During cross-examination, she admitted she told police about six years ago that she didn't consider the encounter sexual.
slazaruk@png.canwest.com
© The Vancouver Province 2006

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