A former Prince George teacher was sentenced Wednesday to nine months house arrest for maintaining a sexual relationship with a student on the Duchess Park secondary school girls basketball team he coached during the 1980s.
In issuing the term to Roderick Lyle Sauve, now 62 and living in Victoria, Provincial Court Judge Michael Brecknell chose the high end of a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers for a term of eight to nine months.
Sauve pleaded guilty in April to gross indecency for carrying on the relationship with Sandra Stobbe (nee Boughey), from September 1981 to June 1985, when she graduated from high school, left Prince George and enrolled in a Lower Mainland college.
Stobbe, who waived her right to a court-ordered ban on publication of her name, provided a victim impact statement at the time in which she recounted the emotional, psychological and physical distress she has suffered as a result of the relationship and Sauve's efforts to keep it secret.
Stobbe also said she became pregnant at age 16 and complied with Sauve's urging to get an abortion because his wife was pregnant at the time. Stobbe said she missed out on normal teen life such as "hanging out with friends, young, innocent crushes, parties on the weekend and prom."
On Wednesday, Brecknell found Stobbe's statements "detailed and compelling."
"There is no doubt that the defendants actions towards Ms. Stobbe harmed her in ways that profoundly affected her physically, mentally and emotionally," Brecknell later said. "Ms. Stobbe has had to struggle daily with the demons that were visited upon her as a result of the defendant's actions."
He also noted the similarities to Tom Ellison, the Lower Mainland teacher who was sentenced in 2006 to two years less a day house arrest for sex offences in the 1970s and 1980s when he was headmaster of the Quest outdoor education program at Prince of Wales secondary school.
In that case, the sentencing judge found Ellison abused his position of trust of authority in a "most egregious and serious way," Brecknell said.
Sauve's crime carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and Brecknell said that while Sauve has no prior criminal record and has expressed deep remorse for his actions, jail time could still be in order.
But he concluded a jail term would not provide any greater benefit to the community or to the victim and opted for a conditional sentence - effectively house arrest.
Conditions of Sauve's sentence include a curfew and 25 hours community service work. He must also register with the national sex offender registry and provide a DNA sample.
Reached Wednesday, Stobbe, who no longer lives in Prince George, declined to comment on whether the sentence was enough.
"Whatever the legal system deems is appropriate is appropriate," Stobbe said. "I don't heal any faster or heal any more because of a longer, stiffer sentence."
However, Stobbe said the fact Sauve has been sentenced has left her with an "immense amount of relief and validation. I'm happy."
Asked why she chose not to put a ban on the publication of her name, Stobbe said the victim is often forgotten when only the name of the perpetrator is known. By letting her name go public, Stobbe said she hopes it will strengthen the cautionary tale her story provides.
"If one person reads my story and reads my details and identifies and either stops or prevents [such a crime] or educates them about protecting their child, that's what I'm after," Stobbe said.
Stobbe said she continues with therapy to this day.
"It's still difficult," she said. "It will be a process that I will constantly that I will have to work on, probably for the rest of my life."
She also said the victim impact statement was the toughest thing she's ever had to write.