WINNIPEG — A former educational assistant who gave a student money, food and drugs as their relationship intensified has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years behind bars for sexual exploitation.
Sheryl Dyck, who was 42 at the time, was arrested in 2015 after seven months of having oral sex that progressed to intercourse with the 16-year-old boy.
Justice Richard Saull said Dyck's actions groomed the student for a physical relationship.
Saull also pointed out that the teen was required to go to school and therefore had to interact with the educational assistant.
"(It was not) just a situation of trust but, given the complainant's circumstances, we have an actual situation of control," Saull said in handing down the sentence Wednesday in Winnipeg Court of Queen's Bench.
"She had the authority over him … and she knew it."
Dyck cried and held her husband and children before she was taken into custody.
Court heard how she had twin daughters when she was a teenager and only had a Grade 11 education. She and her husband also have a son with health issues.
Defence lawyer Saul Simmonds had argued Dyck was encouraged to connect emotionally with students, but it was beyond her capacity to understand professional boundaries.
Simmonds had asked for the mandatory minimum jail term of one year, while Crown prosecutors asked for five years.
Saull said he understood the challenges Dyck's incarceration would have on her family, but added the crime was serious.
"Some may think you were surely fortunate you didn't get more (time behind bars)."
During the trial, court was told that the relationship between the student and Dyck started with them going to convenience stores together and smoking marijuana. Dyck gave the teenager other drugs, alcohol and money and the two began having oral sex in public places.
That progressed to sexual intercourse before the boy's mother found out and complained to the school. Dyck was suspended from her job, but continued to see the student and was caught on video buying liquor with him during school hours.
During a sentencing hearing last week, the victim told court there has been a ripple effect on his life. He stopped going to school and said that every step forward felt like multiple steps back.
A report by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection released last week found 750 cases of sexual offences involving at least 1,272 children were perpetrated by employees or former employees of schools across the country over the last two decades.
The centre called for every region to make disciplinary decisions about teachers public. Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan are the only provinces where it's mandatory.
Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press