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The Crown has elected to proceed by indictment in the case of a St. John’s teacher charged with having sexual contact with a student, meaning the teacher is facing certain jail time if convicted.
High school teacher Krysta Grimes, 32, did not appear personally when her case was called in provincial court Friday morning, but was represented by her lawyer, Ian Patey.
Prosecutor Jacqueline MacMillan told the court she had reviewed the police disclosure in the case and was electing to proceed with the case by indictment. Patey asked for time to discuss that election with MacMillan and to further review the disclosure himself.
Criminal offences in Canada are designated in three categories. Summary offences are considered the least serious and attract lower sentences on conviction, generally of under two years in prison. Indictable offences, which are considered more serious, sometimes carry specific minimum or maximum jail sentences on conviction, which can include life imprisonment. In the case of hybrid offences, the Crown can choose to proceed summarily or by indictment, based on the specific circumstances of a particular case.
Where a criminal case proceeds by indictment, the accused can opt to have a preliminary inquiry, where evidence is presented to a judge who then determines whether or not the case has sufficient evidence to go to trial. The accused also has a right to choose a trial before a judge and jury or a judge alone.
Grimes is charged with sexual exploitation and court documents allege she used a part of her body to touch a part of the body of a boy for a sexual purpose between March 1 and June 30 of last year, while she was in a position of trust. It’s a hybrid offence but where the Crown chooses to proceed by indictment - which it has for Grimes - there’s a minimum jail sentence of one year and a maximum of 14 years if she is eventually convicted.
Grimes, of Portugal Cove-St. Phillips, was suspended from teaching duties by the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District last school year and, following an RNC investigation, was charged by police in August. She has been ordered to have no communication with the complainant and to stay away from him.
There’s a publication ban on the identity of the teenage complainant in the case. Such a ban is mandatory in cases of sexual assault and in cases involving children.
Friday was the second time Grimes’ case has been called in court, though there hasn’t been much progress in the proceedings at this point. She has been represented both times by lawyers from O’Dea Earle law firm, appointed by her union. Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association policy says legal assistance is provided to its members if the association determines the matter arose as a result of their role as a teacher.
Grimes’ case is scheduled to be called in court again in January.