Sunday, September 14, 2008

Court case ends with sentencing for former Charles Hays teacher

A five year jail term was pronounced for Michael Kolesar this week, bringing to an end an almost 18 month process from arrest, to trial, to conviction on sexual assault and sexual exploitation charges.

The Daily News provided the background on the process as their front page, headline story in Friday's paper.

Two special needs students subjected to many years of abuse by Michael Kolesar

By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, September 12, 2008

Pages one and two

Former Charles Hays Secondary School teacher Michael Anthony Kolesar was this week sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.

Kolesar was arrested by Prince Rupert RCMP on Tues., March 27, 2007, and subsequently charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.

A longtime Life Skills teacher for students with special needs and an athletics coach, Kolesar was arrested at his home and accused of sexual abuse inflicted on two female students between September 1997 and March 2007.

The court sentenced him to five years for each of the charges, which he will serve concurrently.
The criminal case had a publication and disclosure ban on any information that would disclose the identity of either victims.

Crown prosecutor Garth Loeppky requested between four and seven years jail time, and, because there were two complainants in the case, said that it should be closer to seven.
The defence counsel argued that three years would be sufficient.

"The judge reserved overnight to think about it and came back with a set of reasons that seemed to be well thought out and touched on all the important points," said Loeppky.

"She concluded that the main principles in a case like this are denunciation and deterrence, and she felt that five years would suffice. She also made an order that he provide a DNA sample, and that he register under the Sexual Offender Information Registration Act for 20 years. She made a weapons and ammunition prohibition for 10 years, and she made an order under 161 of the Criminal Code preventing him from hanging around playgrounds and other places where young children would likely frequent."

The school district terminated Kolesar and ended their involvement in the case after completing their own investigation into the allegations in late 2007.

School superintendent Eric Mercer said the school district was clearly interested in learning the outcome of the case given that Kolesar was a school district employee for over a decade. Mercer said that while it may seem unusual that a school district would pass their own judgment in a case that was still before the courts, the British Columbia College of Teachers' Standards holds teachers to a higher standard of expectation than the law, both morally and ethically.

"Even if Kolesar was not found guilty, we would have been challenged, but I would have worked to uphold the termination based on the investigation I conducted," said Mercer, who took over as Superintendent of Schools from Brian Kangas in spring 2007.

Mercer stressed that teachers in School District 52 will not face undue scrutiny due to the case or the fact that Dana Monteith, also a former teacher at Charles Hays, is facing unrelated charges. The physics teacher who headed the science department was charged in December 2007 with three counts of sexual exploitation of a young person, one count of which was dropped during the course of the investigation.

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