PLEHANOV TRIAL: Girls testify against former sub
One of the young girls allegedly touched inappropriately by former Coquitlam substitute teacher Aleksandr Plehanov told her brother that Mr. P “wanted to have sex with all the girls” that day.
The seven-year-old girl was in Grade 2 at the time, her father testified in Port Coquitlam provincial court on Thursday, the third day of Plehanov’s trial on sexual assault and sexual interference charges. It was after school on March 10, 2010 when he overheard his children’s conversation and told her to speak to her mother about it, he told the court.
The girl’s mother later testified her daughter came upstairs in their home sobbing, saying she didn’t want to get in trouble and didn’t want to get Mr. P in trouble.
The mother recounted how her daughter described the substitute teacher holding her shoulder using a massaging touch and said that it was different from how her regular teacher would touch her on the shoulder.
When the Crown prosecutor asked the mother what she understood her daughter’s reference to sex would have meant, the mother said the girl “knew sex to mean kissing and hugging.”
The mother also testified that she normally waits for her daughter in the lower lobby of the school but when she didn’t come out as usual at 2:30 p.m. on March 10, 2010, she went to her classroom upstairs.
On the way, she noticed the doors to all the other classrooms were wide open except the one to her daughter’s class. She opened the door and saw her daughter and two other girls standing “very close to the teacher,” the mother testified.
“As soon as I opened the door and saw them very close, the teacher moved away very fast,” she said, adding he kept his head down and said “Hi” in a low voice but did not introduce himself.
Later that afternoon, the mother and daughter returned to the school to report the alleged incident to the school principal.
A Coquitlam RCMP officer also visited their home that evening after getting their contact information from another family that had called to report their daughter had allegedly been inappropriately touched by Plehanov.
That girl, who was eight years old and in Grade 3 at the time, was in the same Grade 2/3 split class taught by Plehanov on March 10, 2010.
After school, she told her mother that Mr. P was “gross” because he had touched her buttocks and “deedee,” or her vagina.
During the girl’s testimony Wednesday and Thursday, she said she was one of a handful of kids standing at Plehanov’s desk as they took turns playing on his iPhone.
“I was standing there and he was rubbing my bum very gently, I don’t know why,” she testified. “He pushed me over so he could reach me more; I didn’t like it so I moved to the other side of the desk.”
The girl said Plehanov started asking her about some games he could download on his iPhone but when she responded, he said he couldn’t hear her and asked her to come back next to him.
“I went back to that side of the desk and he started rubbing my bum and front area,” she stated. The girl had testified earlier that “front area” meant her crotch.
The incident “made me feel weird,” the girl said in a videotaped statement to the police, which was shown in court Wednesday.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Lisa Helps, the girl said after Plehanov touched her, she went to sit on the sofa with two other girls, one of whom also said she’d been touched by the teacher. The two girls exchanged stories but did not tell the teacher they saw next for science class.
“Because you were trying to figure out what to do?” Helps asked.
“Because I didn’t really know yet what happened was wrong,” the girl replied.
Helps suggested the girl only realized something was wrong after she’d talked about it with her friend.
Helps said Plehanov had put his hand on her bottom as he moved her to the side and suggested any inappropriate touching was accidental.
Plehanov is facing 10 charges of sexual assault and sexual interference involving girls who were aged seven and eight at the time, as well as one charge of criminal harassment.
In her opening statements Tuesday Crown counsel Wendy Van Tongeren Harvey indicated Plehanov was warned on numerous occasions about inappropriate touching of students. An investigation into an alleged incident in October 2009 resulted in Plehanov being disciplined by the BC College of Teachers but it was not reported to police.
The trial continues.
THE PLEHANOV TRIAL
• Jan. 3: Crown alleges incidents of inappropriate touching of students by former substitute teacher Aleksandr Plehanov and a school principal describes a conversation with parents about an alleged incident.
• Jan. 4: Court is told Plehanov’s bail release didn’t specify he was to stay away from the alleged victims’ residences and the first of the young girls alleged to have been molested testifies.
• Jan. 5: One alleged victim testifies in court that “Mr. P” touched her bum and crotch while she stood at his desk looking up her home using Google Earth on his iPhone.