BELLEVILLE, Ontario — A woman accused of 36 sex crimes involving minors is a teacher, police have revealed.
Ontario Provincial Police then announced she was facing several more charges – and employed as a teacher with the Belleville-based Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.
Sgt. Peter Leon said the charges now involve four young people ages 12 to 15 and date from 2013 to 2016. Investigators say the incidents occurred in Tweed, 37 kilometres northeast of Belleville.
McLaren is now charged with three counts of making child pornography and one count of making sexually explicit material available to children.
She’s also charged with
four counts of sexual assault on a person under 16
four counts of sexual interference with a person under 16
four counts of invitation to sexual touching under 16
eight counts of sexual exploitation
six counts of luring a person under 16
six counts of making sexually explicit material available to a person under 16
|Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.|
Leon said the exploitation charge relates to crimes committed by someone in position of trust, while the luring charge relates to “making an offer to meet, to carry out something.”
Police said they launched their investigation Feb. 14.
Board education director Mandy Savery-Whiteway said McLaren “is not at work.”
“Child and youth counsellors are at schools to support students, as needed,” she wrote in an e-mail.
“We are co-operating with police and will also be undertaking our own investigation. Student safety and well-being are always our first priorities at all times.”
The Ontario College of Teachers directory lists McLaren as a specialist in teaching French as a second language. She’s listed as a member since 2008 and in good standing. “Good standing” means only that a person is a paid, registered member certified to teach in a given year, the website reads.
In an interview, McLaren’s lawyer, Pieter Kort, cautioned against rushing to judgment.
“One of the unfortunate realities is that many members of the public operate under the presumption of guilt,” he said.
Kort and Hastings County assistant Crown attorney Adam Zegouras made a joint submission that McLaren should be released and a publication ban on her name be lifted. Justice of the Peace Sam Cureatz agreed.
McLaren, who is of medium height with long black hair, entered the court wearing a long, black winter coat. She sat in the prisoner’s box while bound by handcuffs and leg shackles.
Publication bans prevent the release of any evidence heard during the bail hearing and the release of any information which could identify the minors.
The justice of the peace outlined the conditions of McLaren’s release, including living with her parents, who must act as sureties accompany her whenever she leaves their home.
Cureatz ordered McLaren not to have any contact with the four minors or with any male person younger than 18. She must avoid public places where minors may gather and cannot have a mobile phone or pager. Any computers in her parents’ home were to be removed within 48 hours and McLaren must not possess weapons.
Once released from the prisoner’s box and unshackled, McLaren walked to her parents. She broke immediately into sobs as she hugged each of them.
McLaren is to return to court March 31.