Teacher jailed for two years

Sex­ual abuse of stu­dent ‘rep­re­hen­si­ble’

The Sudbury Star - - FRONT PAGE - BEN LEE­SON

A Sud­bury court heard Wed­nes­day that a fam­ily with a “hap­pygo-lucky, fun-lov­ing son” had watched that boy dis­ap­pear in his teen years, fol­low­ing sex­ual abuse by a for­mer teacher whom he had trusted.

“We had to watch him self-de­struct,” the mother of the boy, who is now an adult, wrote in a vic­tim im­pact state­ment. “He turned to al­co­hol and drugs to numb his pain and shame.”

He be­came se­cre­tive, she wrote, and “viewed his fam­ily as the enemy.”

She noted that her son had needed med­i­ca­tion and had checked into a treat­ment fa­cil­ity to get help — a source of fi­nan­cial hard­ship for the fam­ily, but nec­es­sary due to the trauma he had suf­fered.

“He lived in­side his head for many years. He is still strug­gling with var­i­ous is­sues. He has only now be­gun his jour­ney of heal­ing.”

In a de­ci­sion handed down at the Sud­bury Court­house on Wed­nes­day, Su­pe­rior Court Jus­tice Dan Cor­nell placed blame for the vic­tim’s on­go­ing strug­gles squarely on the shoul­ders of his for­mer teacher, 46-year-old Damir Bulic.

Cor­nell sen­tenced Bulic to two years in jail less a day for four counts of per­form­ing an in­de­cent act, as well as six months for one count of in­vi­ta­tion to sex­ual touch­ing, to be served con­cur­rently. Bulic’s sen­tence will then serve three years of pro­ba­tion.

“There is no doubt in my mind that these chal­lenges arise largely, if not ex­clu­sively, as a re­sult of Mr. Bulic’s con­duct,” Cor­nell said while de­liv­er­ing his de­ci­sion.

Bulic was found guilty of the five counts, all of which in­volved the same boy, last July. The of­fences oc­curred from Septem­ber 2010 to Septem­ber 2011. Cor­nell had re­served his sen­tenc­ing de­ci­sion this past De­cem­ber, fol­low­ing sen­tenc­ing sub­mis­sions and the read­ing of vic­tim im­pact state­ments. The May 15 sen­tenc­ing date was set in Jan­uary.

Of­fered the chance to speak on Wed­nes­day, Bulic did not ad­dress the court or mem­bers of the vic­tim’s fam­ily, many of whom were in at­ten­dance. As Cor­nell read the sen­tence, he showed no emo­tion.

“Mr. Bulic’s con­duct can only be char­ac­ter­ized as rep­re­hen­si­ble,” Cor­nell said while de­liv­er­ing his de­ci­sion. “He was a teacher, (the vic­tim’s) teacher. As a teacher, a breach of trust such as the one in this case is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern.”

Bulic was also or­dered to have no con­tact with the vic­tim or his par­ents dur­ing both the cus­to­dial pe­riod of his sen­tence and his pro­ba­tion, and to stay 100 me­tres or more away from any lo­ca­tion where the vic­tim might live. He will have to un­dergo coun­selling and treat­ment as di­rected by his pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer.

He will not be per­mit­ted to work or vol­un­teer in a role where he will be in a po­si­tion of trust or au­thor­ity to any­one un­der the age of 16, nor re­side in the same dwelling as any­one un­der that age, ex­cept for his own chil­dren.

Build was also handed a 10-year weapons ban and an or­der to pro­vide a DNA sam­ple to au­thor­i­ties for analysis. He will be en­tered into the Na­tional Sex Of­fender registry for life.

He is not to at­tend a park, swim­ming pool, day­care, school, play­ground or community cen­tre or have direct con­tact with any­one un­der the age of 16, ex­cept while with his own chil­dren and un­der adult su­per­vi­sion, for 10 years.

In a two-week trial last May, court heard how Bulic had groomed the boy through re­peated con­tact over a lengthy pe­riod of time, from a young age. Bulic gave the boy cash and bought him meals, high-end cloth­ing, and even a lap­top com­puter. He gave him cig­a­rettes and al­co­hol, in­tro­duced him to pornog­ra­phy and even bought him a sex toy.

Bulic, a mar­ried fa­ther of seven, had the vic­tim babysit at his home and be­came friends with the boy’s par­ents for a time, though they later be­came con­cerned about their son’s re­la­tion­ship with his for­mer teacher.

Court heard that Bulic mas­tur­bated in the boy’s pres­ence on four oc­ca­sions and had him do the same, at one point video­tap­ing the act while the vic­tim drove his ve­hi­cle. The boy lost con­trol of the ve­hi­cle to end up in a ditch.

Bulic also of­fered to per­form oral sex on the boy, but he re­fused.

The boy’s par­ents said they did not be­come aware of those acts un­til years later.

The vic­tim’s mother tes­ti­fied that when Bulic bought her son a plane ticket to join him and his fam­ily on a va­ca­tion in Croa­tia dur­ing the sum­mer of 2011, it crossed a line for her and her hus­band. They did not let their son use the ticket.

But even af­ter Bulic’s of­fer was “un­equiv­o­cally re­fused,” Cor­nell said, he “en­gaged in what can only be be­haved as bizarre be­hav­iour.” Bulic pur­chased the ticket any­way and gave it to the boy in an en­ve­lope, with a let­ter and in­struc­tions on how he could travel alone to meet Bulic and his fam­ily.

The boy kept the en­ve­lope in his dresser and did not tell his fam­ily about it. Its dis­cov­ery caused “a great deal of con­flict” Cor­nell said on Wed­nes­day, as the par­ents were up­set their wishes had not been re­spected and the boy was an­gry that they would not let him go.

Con­cerns per­sisted about Bulic’s be­hav­iour and in 2013, Greater Sud­bury Po­lice in­ter­viewed the mother and son about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the boy and the teacher, but no charges were laid as po­lice found no crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

In Novem­ber, the boy re­vealed de­tails of the abuse to his girl­friend, who urged him to tell his par­ents. He then told his fam­ily about the var­i­ous sex crimes.

The vic­tim be­gan tak­ing med­i­ca­tion soon af­ter and even­tu­ally checked into a treat­ment fa­cil­ity, which meant giv­ing up his job.

Cor­nell noted the var­i­ous phys­i­cal and emo­tional ef­fects the vic­tim had suf­fered as a re­sult of the abuse, as well as the emo­tional and fi­nan­cial ef­fects on his fam­ily.

While not an ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tor, Cor­nell said, Bulic had not ex­pressed any re­morse for his ac­tions or sought help for the prob­lems that led him to be­come sex­u­ally at­tracted to a young boy.

The Crown had sought a sen­tence of three years in jail, as well as a 10-year community su­per­vi­sion or­der. Bulic’s lawyer, Owen God­dard, said a sen­tence of nine to 12 months was ap­pro­pri­ate, be­cause he did not ac­tu­ally touch the vic­tim.

God­dard re­ceived 16 let­ters of sup­port from friends and fam­ily, in­clud­ing his wife, who de­scribed him as a lov­ing hus­band and de­voted fa­ther.

God­dard told the court that Bulic had lost his teach­ing ca­reer as a re­sult of the con­vic­tions and had been deal­ing with men­tal-health is­sues.

The Crown con­tended that Bulic’s men­tal-health strug­gles, like those of his vic­tim, were the re­sult of his own ac­tions.

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