Attitudes are shaped too by a popular culture that celebrates “MILFs” (“mothers I’d like to f–k”) and dismisses sexually voracious older women as “cougars.” Male teachers who have sex with underage female students are viewed as statutory rapists or creeps; women who do the same are perceived as doing the boy a favour or providing a rite of passage, evidenced by the inevitable “Where was she when I was in high school? “When a woman is involved, the language is different,” says clinical forensic psychologist Franca Cortoni, a professor at Université de Montréal who studies female sexual offenders, a field of research in its infancy.

Female teachers who sexually exploit students, usually male, is one of three known categories of female sexual offender, Cortoni says.

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Crown counsel David Simpkin presented a more nefarious scenario: “[Ralph] appears to be bored, looking for some spice in her life and chose the victim,” he said.

“She doesn’t appear to have any insight into the harm she has caused.” Justice Selwyn Romilly was sympathetic to Ralph, concluding the grandmother didn’t pose a danger to the community and shows “considerable remorse.” When a male is a victim of a female, society doesn’t take it as seriously, says Robert Shoop, a professor of education law at Kansas State University and an internationally recognized expert on sexual harassment and abuse prevention in schools.

He bragged to his friends about it, how could he be hurt?

’ ” Judges tend to reflect community values, says Shoop, and generally [in the U. One of those values, he says, is that women are powerless and need to be protected from sex-addled males, whatever their age.

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Cortoni hasn’t studied female teachers specifically, she says: “I haven’t been able to get data.” Canada’s national sex-offender registry doesn’t provide gender breakdown for “privacy reasons.” A recent freedom of information search in Wales, however, showed female sex offenders in that part of Britain were the fastest growing category, more than doubling from 78 in 2009 to 193 in 2012 (the number of male sex offenders rose 67.5 per cent from 3,655 to 6,122).

We’re just beginning to understand sexual abuse by female teachers and its consequences, says Shoop, who calls it “abhorrent behaviour that’s epidemic.” People don’t appreciate how frequently it occurs, he says: “The conversation is probably where the abuse of children by priests was 10 years ago.” The sensationalized template for the female-teacher-and-male-student relationship remains mired in the decades-old spectacle of California teacher Mary Kay Le Tourneau, a married 34-year-old mother of four who was jailed in 1997 for second-degree rape of her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau.

Evidence shown to the court included coded messages left in the student’s locker and gifts such as the engraved dog tags the teacher gave the student after their first sexual encounter: “BFF. 19-05-02.” In a written statement, the student stated that Pontbriand ended it after he entered CEGEP, saying she’d met someone new.

He went to police in 2007 after being expelled; later he claimed the relationship left him depressed and suicidal.

She gained the trust of the teenager, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, when they exchanged intimate details during a 2002 school cycling trip.