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Northeast Kings Education Centre teacher pleads guilty to sexual exploitation charge

Northeast Kings Education Centre (NKEC) teacher David Harrison goes through security on his way into Kentville provincial court on May 30. He pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual exploitation.
Northeast Kings Education Centre (NKEC) teacher David Harrison goes through security on his way into Kentville provincial court on May 30. He pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual exploitation. - Kirk Starratt

Harrison to be sentenced June 26

KENTVILLE, N.S. —

He sat with his head down as his matter was called before the court.

David Harrison, 39, of Canaan, a teacher at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, will be sentenced in June on a charge of touching the body of a young person who he was in a position of trust or authority toward for a sexual purpose, also referred to as sexual exploitation. He committed the offence in Kings County between Sept. 1, 2013, and Aug. 28, 2015.

Harrison was charged this past November with sexual assault, sexual exploitation and child luring – specifically that he used a telecommunication device to communicate with a person believed to be under the age of 18 for the purpose of facilitating an offence under Section 153.1 of the Criminal Code. This section of the code relates to sexual touching.

During a brief court appearance on May 30, Crown attorney Robert Morrison said they would be proceeding summarily on the charges. Harrison’s defence lawyer, Joel Pink, entered a guilty plea to the sexual exploitation charge on behalf of his client.

Pink requested that Harrison’s sentencing hearing be adjourned to June 26 at 1:30 p.m. He said he has filed a psychological report with the court, as well as a series of cases “which will justify the joint recommendation that the Crown and I will be making.”

Outside the courtroom, Morrison said he had initially elected to proceed by indictment because of the time lapse involved but switched to summarily because it was justified by the facts of the case. This means that the minimum sentence would be less. The minimum sentence for a summary offence is 90 days.

However, Morrison wouldn’t divulge the particulars of the joint sentencing recommendation until it is on the record. There will be a period of incarceration involved, along with a period of probation.

Morrison said Harrison will have a criminal record and the sentence would come with a mandatory Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) order.

There would also be a Section 161 order that would prevent Harrison from attending places where children are present or could reasonably be expected to be present.

“The court couldn’t sentence him not to work as a teacher but the effect of the criminal record and the nature of the offences themselves will, I think, preclude him from being in a position of trust or authority or around children, even in a volunteer capacity, let alone in a paid capacity,” Morrison said.

He said the other two charges against Harrison are duplicate charges and would be withdrawn. Since the sexual exploitation charge involved being in a position of trust or authority, Morrison said it was the most specific and the most appropriate one for Harrison to plead guilty to.

Pink wouldn’t say specifically what the joint sentencing recommendation would be. However, he said that what led to Harrison’s decision to plead guilty to the charge would become clear at the sentencing hearing.

“Normally people plead guilty if they accept responsibility for what allegedly happened,” Pink said. “I think you’ll hear what the facts are when we come back on the 26th.”

A notice sent to parents and guardians by NKEC principal Kevin Veinot on Nov. 21 stated that Harrison had been placed on leave and that all appropriate policies and procedures were being followed. According to an online staff directory, Harrison had been teaching Grade 11 Math, Grade 11 and 12 Pre-Calculus and Grade 12 Calculus.

Harrison was released from custody on a $3,000 non-cash recognizance with conditions following a bail hearing on Nov. 21, 2018.

According to a Nov. 21, 2018, news release issued by the RCMP, this past July, the complainant, who was 16 years old when the alleged incidents began, contacted police. The identity of the complainant is protected by a publication ban.

The RCMP Technological Crime Unit assisted with an investigation and were able to recover evidence that supports the complainant’s allegations.

The RCMP executed a search warrant at Harrison’s home on Nov. 20 and arrested him. Harrison was remanded into custody pending his initial court appearance on Nov. 21.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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