Crown stays sex charges against Nunavut middle school teacher
“There is no reasonable prospect of conviction on these charges”
The Crown prosecution service in Nunavut has entered a stay of proceedings in three sexual interference charges that police laid this past March against Mark Caine, 37, a respected teacher at Aqsarniit Middle School in Iqaluit.
A Crown lawyer announced the decision in Nunavut court July 15, saying “there is no reasonable prospect of conviction on these charges.”
This likely means the charges are as good as dropped. When a stay of proceedings is issued, the Crown is legally allowed to revive the prosecution within one year — but this rarely happens.
If they don’t they revive charges, they disappear from the record as if they never existed. Crown prosecutors are not required to give reasons for issuing stays of proceedings.
The Iqaluit RCMP laid the charges against Caine this past March 27 and announced them March 29.
On April 12. Justice Andy Mahar imposed a ban on publishing or broadcasting Caine’s name after the Crown argued that to do so might lead to the identification of complainants.
Justice Earl Johnson lifted that ban May 15 after lawyers representing the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. applied in court to get it quashed.
The offence of sexual interference, under section 151 of the Criminal Code, relates to the actions of a person who touches the body of any young person under 16 or a sexual purpose, indirectly or directly, with a body part or an object.
Any person found guilty of that offence in a summary conviction process faces up to 18 months in jail and a mandatory minimum jail term of 90 days.
Following the laying of the three charges, Caine was afterwards suspended, with pay, from his teaching job. While he waited for the charges to be processed in court, the court let him live in Toronto.
Caine did not attend court in person July 15 but was represented there by Toronto lawyer Julian Roy, who appeared via telephone.
It’s not clear what steps Caine may now be able to take to restore his reputation.
A film club that Caine started at the Iqaluit middle school won widespread praise and received moral and financial support from the RCMP and the Government of Nunavut.
This past March 1, Premier Eva Aariak rose in the legislature to declare that the Aqsarniit film club is an “inspiring example of how our younger generations are bringing Nunavut to the rest of the world.”
Students from the Aqsarniit Film Club visited Toronto earlier this year for a pre-screening of their films at the University of Toronto, in advance of the Toronto Student Film Festival.