Exchanged inappropriate messages with 14-year-old student
A former central Newfoundland teacher has been found guilty of unlawfully luring a child over the Internet.
Former Cottrell’s Cove teacher Jody Hale (right) was found guilty Friday of unlawfully luring a child over the Internet. — Advertiser file photo
Jody Hale showed no emotion in court as Judge Jacqueline Jenkins read the verdict in Grand Falls-Windsor provincial court Friday via video conference.
Evidence presented at the trial showed that Hale exchanged thousands of Facebook messages with a former student of his at Cottrell’s Cove Academy when she was 14 and he was 40, between December 2011 and March 2012.
In the messages, he said he dreamed of kissing the victim, played Truth or Dare with her and said he loved her. He also brought her treats to school and made her a handmade Valentine containing lyrics to a song by Adele.
Hale’s defence maintained that although he admitted some of the things he said were inappropriate, their relationship was a deep friendship that wasn’t sexual, and the scope of their conversations included a variety of topics. He maintained throughout the trial that he forgot the victim was only 14.
In delivering her verdict, Jenkins said Hale’s perception of the victim’s emotional maturity was irrelevant. She called the exchanges between Hale and his victim “beyond inappropriate” and said she believed he was fully aware of the sexual intent of the conversations, and that the victim was uncomfortable with the subject matter.
Jenkins called Hale’s testimony evasive and self-serving and said his actions were predatory, morally reprehensible and criminal in nature.
Hale is due back in court March 3, 2014 for a pre-sentence report.
A second allegation of child luring against Hale is also before the courts. That matter is due to be called again on Jan. 22.