A former Charlottetown music teacher took the stand at his sexual assault trial on Tuesday and denied the allegations made by three former female students.
Roger Jabbour, 65, is charged with three counts of sexual assault, three counts of sexual interference and two counts of sexual exploitation related to three former female students at Charlottetown’s Colonel Gray High School.
Presiding over the case is Judge John Douglas. A publication ban is in place protecting the identities of the three female complainants.
Testifying in his own defence, Jabbour told his lawyer, Joel Pink, that he hugged the girls and held their hands as he did with other students but said there was nothing sexual about the encounters.
As well, Jabbour said the hugs and hand-holding were ways to thank and console all of his students. He said the hugs were “typical” and “nothing special”.
Prior to Jabbour testifying, a third female complainant took the stand.
Now 18, she said in provincial court in Charlottetown that she was 14 in 2014 and a Grade 10 student at the school when she enrolled in the band program and met the accused.
She testified that Jabbour frequently called her into his office to discuss the class, other students and, once, her relationship with a boy in the class she was dating.
In the winter of 2015, there was an issue with a cheque she submitted for a class trip later that year. She told the court that in Jabbour’s office, she called her parents about the cheque. She spoke with her grandmother because her parents weren’t home. She alleges Jabbour walked up behind her smiling, touched the hand she was holding the phone with, and rubbed her shoulder, back and the side of her body down to her hip while she spoke with her grandmother. “I didn’t move at all,” she said.
The incident lasted about five minutes, she said.
The second alleged incident with Jabbour took place months later at the end of the school year, she said. She was called into Jabbour’s office because of a decision she had to make regarding school that affected the band program. She testified that she was upset and Jabbour pulled his chair up to her. He placed his hands on her knees and ran his hands up her thighs and inside her shorts. She pulled away and left the office, she testified.
On Monday, court heard testimony from the first two complainants. Both were Grade 10 students in 2012 and were 15 years old at the time. They testified that Jabbour hugged and kissed them on several and separate occasions on the neck and face (but never on the lips) when no one else was around in his office and in another room at school. One complainant said Jabbour had her straddle him, and once she noticed his penis was erect. They also said that Jabbour sent them numerous emails at night using a private email address, went out to dinner and lunch with them and one afternoon watched a movie with them when the parents weren’t home.
Jabbour testified he did watch a movie – “Pay it Forward” – with the two girls, but that he sat on the floor and had no contact with them, such as the allegations of hand holding, putting his arms around them, rubbing a grape across one of the girl’s lips or resting his head on the other girl’s lap.
On cross-examination, Crown attorney Valerie Moore asked Jabbour if it seemed odd for him, then 60, to spend an afternoon watching a movie with two 15-year-old girls with no parents around. Jabbour said given what has happened since, it seems to be odd. But, he added that he has been invited to other student’s homes over the years.
Moore also pressed Jabbour about whether it was consistent with school policies to hug students and communicate with them after hours online using chat or a private email address instead of his school email address. Jabbour said he didn’t know, and he didn’t look into it.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Douglas adjourned the matter until Aug. 23 to review submissions and set a date for a decision.
A second trial involving another female complainant involving allegations from the 1990s is scheduled for September.