Media, along with screenwriters, are complicit in shaping attitudes, says Shoop, who points to criminal behaviour being referred to as a “steamy affair,” or rape referred to as an “inappropriate relationship.” It’s a confusion writ large culturally: Netflix categorizes —a very bad movie about a sexual relationship between an unhinged young female high school teacher and her male student—under “romance.” Over the past year, we’ve seen a barrage of allegations and stories involving female teachers having sex with students.

This month, the Internet exploded when two Louisiana teachers, Shelley Dufresne, 32, and Rachel Respess, 24, were arrested for “carnal knowledge of a minor,” for allegedly engaging in a ménage à trois with a 16-year-old male student after he bragged about it.

She gained the trust of the teenager, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, when they exchanged intimate details during a 2002 school cycling trip.

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In early October, 44-year-old Ottawa teaching assistant Kathy Kitts was charged with a series of felonies stemming from allegations she conducted a two-year relationship with a male student, starting when he was 15.

And last week Charlotte Parker, a married 32-year-old British teaching assistant, was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence after admitting to a two-year sexual relationship with a male student that began when he was 14.; Parker threatened suicide after the teenager’s parents found out.

Public records of provincial bodies governing teachers provide only a glimpse of a bigger story. Gabrielle Barkany, spokesperson for the Ontario College of Teachers, says there has been no increase in female teachers’ licences being revoked for sexually related misconduct in recent years: “Our statistics do not indicate an increase or a specific trend.” Yet many cases involving teachers, both male and female, don’t come to trial or public scrutiny.

Of the 32 teaching licences revoked in Ontario in 2013 by the college, 28 were for sexually related misconduct; of the 28, only one was female.

The victim, now in his 20s, said a psychiatrist helped him understand he’d missed out on normal dating rituals.

Pontbriand, now a mother of two, alienated him from family and friends, he said, “so as to satisfy her own egotistic and sexual desires.

Crown counsel David Simpkin presented a more nefarious scenario: “[Ralph] appears to be bored, looking for some spice in her life and chose the victim,” he said.

“She doesn’t appear to have any insight into the harm she has caused.” Justice Selwyn Romilly was sympathetic to Ralph, concluding the grandmother didn’t pose a danger to the community and shows “considerable remorse.” When a male is a victim of a female, society doesn’t take it as seriously, says Robert Shoop, a professor of education law at Kansas State University and an internationally recognized expert on sexual harassment and abuse prevention in schools.

The unspoken assumption among researchers is that cases involving teachers are under-reported, says Cortoni.

It’s believed boys self-disclose more than girls while the relationship is ongoing, says Shoop—“they’re pretty excited and proud of it.” Still, generally only five to 15 per cent of people who are abused ever tell anybody, he says. provide disciplinary actions online but other provinces, including those in the Maritimes, do not.

The Crown called for three years incarceration for “egregious breach of trust.” Ralph received 18 months house arrest, six months curfew and community service.