Ex-teacher in sex case gets day pa­role

Waterloo Region Record - - LOCAL - Gor­don Paul, Record staff

A for­mer Kitch­ener pub­lic school teacher who had sex mul­ti­ple times with a 15-year-old girl and later ex­changed sex­ual texts with a 16year-old girl has been granted day pa­role af­ter serv­ing less than half of his two-year prison sen­tence.

In mak­ing its de­ci­sion ear­lier this month, the Pa­role Board of Canada said it was con­cerned about Michael Sper­ling’s at­tempt to min­i­mize his crimes but con­cluded he ac­cepts what he did was wrong.

Sper­ling, 36, pleaded guilty last Septem­ber to sex­ual in­ter­fer­ence and lur­ing a child. He was sen­tenced on Oct. 31.

Sper­ling, who taught at Sand­hills Pub­lic School in Kitch­ener, was sus­pended af­ter the charges were laid, court was told. He knew the girl was 15, be­low the age of con­sent. She was not a stu­dent at Sand­hills.

Although the board granted day pa­role for six months, it re­jected full pa­role. Day pa­role is de­signed to pre­pare an of­fender for full pa­role. Sper­ling will live in a com­mu­nity-based res­i­den­tial fa­cil­ity.

“We dis­cussed your of­fend­ing and you in­di­cated that while you knew one vic­tim was only 15, your sex­ual needs and de­sires over­whelmed any sense of moral or le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity,” the board wrote in its de­ci­sion.

“You claimed that while you knew what you were do­ing was wrong, you were able to jus­tify your be­hav­iour which al­lowed you to con­tinue.”

The board said Sper­ling tried to min­i­mize his level of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“You sug­gested that sex­ual con­tact … was un­avoid­able and ini­ti­ated by the vic­tim. When chal­lenged on both these com­ments, you con­ceded your de­pic­tions did min­i­mize your be­hav­iour and could be seen as not be­ing ac­count­able. You still ap­pear to lack the full in­sight and un­der­stand­ing as to the na­ture and sever­ity of your of­fend­ing.”

But the board added Sper­ling ac­cepts what he did was wrong.

Crown pros­e­cu­tor Ash­ley Warne told court Sper­ling en­cour­aged the 15-year-old girl to send him sex­ual pic­tures, which she did.

He sent her naked pho­tos of him­self. Later, they had sex sev­eral times.

The 15-year-old ended the sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with Sper­ling and told her aunt what hap­pened. Later, Sper­ling and a 16-year-old girl ex­changed sex­ual texts.

In a vic­tim im­pact state­ment read out in court, the 15-year-old girl said she of­ten felt sad, numb, empty and dis­con­nected.

She said her self-es­teem has been “shat­tered” and the of­fences hurt her re­la­tion­ship with her fam­ily.

“I just want to feel whole again,” she said. “I don’t want to feel the pain I feel ev­ery time I hear (his) name.”

The board said Sper­ling got credit for plead­ing guilty and has made some progress in prison.

“You have en­gaged in pro­gram­ming, made sig­nif­i­cant gains and have de­vel­oped some tools and skills to mit­i­gate your risk. You have strong fam­ily and com­mu­nity sup­port and have been can­did in your dis­clo­sure to your spouse as to the de­gree of your in­fi­deli­ties and sex­ual of­fend­ing.”

The board con­cluded Sper­ling “will not present an un­due risk to so­ci­ety if re­leased on day pa­role” and said his re­lease “will con­trib­ute to the pro­tec­tion of so­ci­ety by fa­cil­i­tat­ing your rein­te­gra­tion into so­ci­ety as a law-abid­ing cit­i­zen.”

Sper­ling can’t be with chil­dren un­less ac­com­pa­nied by a re­spon­si­ble adult who knows his crim­i­nal his­tory and has been ap­proved in writ­ing by his pa­role su­per­vi­sor.

He can have no con­tact with the vic­tims or their fam­ily mem­bers.

He must im­me­di­ately re­port any in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships and friend­ships with fe­males.

He can’t ac­cess pornog­ra­phy or use a cell­phone.

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