Teacher found guilty of luring 14-year-old student using Internet

Andrea Gunn agunn@live.ca
Published on April 24, 2014
Jody Hale is led from the courtroom to start his 15-month jail-term after being sentenced in Grand Falls-Windsor Provincial Court on Wednesday.
— Photo by Andrea Gunn/The Advertiser

A former Central Newfoundland teacher will spend the next year and a half in jail. Jody Hale was sentenced to 15 months in jail and received three years probation for child luring.
He appeared in Grand Falls-Windsor provincial court on Wednesday morning for sentencing on one count of luring a child - one of his former students - using the Internet.

Hale was found guilty of the offence in December.

Evidence presented during 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 41 - between December 2011 and March 2012.

In the messages Hale talked about his feelings for the victim, complimented her on her appearance, and played games of truth or dare. He would also bring her gifts of food in school, and made her handmade romantic Valentine's Day cards.

In her remarks to the court on Wednesday morning, presiding Judge Jacqueline Jenkins, who appeared via teleconference, reiterated the severity of the crime.

She said laws against child luring are to protect children from predatory adults who use the privacy of the Internet as a tool to seek and sexually prey on children.

Jenkins said, as teacher Hale had no need to troll the Internet looking for victims, and he had no need to hide his identity while grooming his victim.

In fact, she said, Hale used his position of power and to gain the trust of his victim with the eventual aim of sexual contact.

Jenkins also spoke about Hale's feelings towards his crime. She said while Hale has verbally expressed that he's sorry for his actions, and he understands the consequences of those actions, she said she felt there was little genuine remorse and true understanding of the severity of the crime.

On top of 15 months of incarceration and three years of probation, Hale has also been ordered to register as a sex offender for a 10-year period and give samples of bodily fluids for forensic measures.

Hale is ordered to stay away from his victim, the family of his victim, and is not allowed to have any contact with individuals under the age of 16 without supervision by an adult.

Initially, Jenkins had given Hale one-for-one credit for 51 days of time served - although Hale had not been sentenced, he opted for voluntary remand at his last appearance.

However, at the request of Hale's defence and with permission from the Crown, Jenkins increased Hale's time served to 78 days in line with a new Supreme Court ruling in early April where the maximum allowed credit is 1.5 days per one day time served.

Hale appeared collected as he was handcuffed and led from court. When asked by reporters if he had anything to say, Hale responded, "Not at this time, sorry."

With one case closed, it's not the end of court appearances for Hale.

He is up on charges for another instance of allegedly luring a student, and is set to appear again on those charges on May 2.