Teacher jailed for two years
Sexual abuse of student ‘reprehensible’
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.