Sudbury teacher banned for life from teaching in Ontario

The Sudbury Star [Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada]

March 3, 2021

By Harold Carmichael

He regularly rubbed a student’s upper thigh ‘in a sexual manner’

A new Ontario law requiring that any teacher disciplined for sexual abuse or child pornography be banned from teaching for life in the province has impacted a former Greater Sudbury teacher.

Craig James Lusk, a Sudbury Catholic District School Board teacher who was suspended in the fall of 2017 by the Ontario College of Teachers for professional misconduct, had his teaching licence revoked, along with more than two dozen other teachers in December 2020.

The revoked licences occurred after the college did a thorough review of hundreds of discipline cases that involved a wide range of improper behaviour by Ontario teachers, including viewing child pornography and touching female students in physical education courses.

As of 2020, according to the college, Lusk was no longer teaching. After he was issued the suspension in the fall of 2017, Lusk was then suspended by the college on March 26, 2018, for non-payment of fees.

In its 36-page decision released on Oct. 10, 2017, following a two-day hearing in late September of that same year that featured testimony by two students and a principal, the college’s discipline committee said a six-month suspension was required.

Lusk, who did not attend the hearing, was found guilty of professional misconduct for seven reasons: he failed to maintain the standards of the profession; he abused a student physically; he abused a student or students psychologically or emotionally; he abused a student sexually; he failed to comply with the Education Act; he engaged in conduct unbecoming for a member; and he committed acts that having regard to all the circumstances would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable, or unprofessional.

“The member’s repeated pattern of sexually abusive conduct warrants a reprimand by his peers,”  the three-member committee said in its decision. “The committee is deeply concerned that the member regularly rubbed the student’s upper thigh in a sexual manner over the course of one and a half academic years. He made the student feel scared and uncomfortable, he singled her out in a way that was completely inappropriate, and he utterly failed to provide students with a safe space in which they could learn and develop.

“The member’s conduct demonstrated a gross abuse of his position of trust and authority and it undermined the public’s confidence in the teaching profession. The reprimand will allow the committee to directly address its concerns with the member and will serve as a specific deterrent. Recording the fact of the reprimand on the Register will serve as a general deterrent to other members of the profession.”

The discipline committee also said college counsel’s suggested one- to three-month suspension of Lusk would be too lenient in the circumstances.

“The committee does not believe that the cases provided by College Counsel establish that an appropriate penalty would include a suspension of only one to three months,” it said. “Such a lenient penalty does not sufficiently address the member’s egregious misconduct and it does not adequately protect the public interest.

“The committee recognizes that it is rare to order a penalty that goes beyond the order sought by the College; however, this decision turns entirely on its facts and the facts in this case warrant a more severe penalty than that sought by the College. The cases provided by College Counsel in support of the proposed penalty were distinguishable on their facts from the member’s case and did not satisfy the committee that a one-month suspension was appropriate in this case.”

Lusk was directed to appear before the committee to receive a reprimand. He was also ordered to successfully complete, at his own expense, a course on appropriate boundaries and boundary violation issues, along with a course regarding professional ethics.

Lusk would have needed to appear before the panel to receive the reprimand and complete the courses before starting or resuming a teaching position for which a Certificate of Qualification and Registration is required

Heading into the hearing, Lusk was alleged to have repeatedly rubbed a female student on the back of her leg above the knee during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

The two students who testified said they witnessed Lusk rubbing the female student’s leg on several occasions. The principal, meanwhile, said she did not have the opportunity to discuss the allegations with Lusk as he did not attend the school on Nov. 26, 2014, without providing any explanation, and never returned to the school after that.

The principal also testified she met with the student (accompanied by her parents) whose leg had been allegedly repeatedly rubbed by Lusk. The student said Lusk’s touching made her feel gross, uncomfortable, and “weirded out.”

Greater Sudbury Police did get involved in the case, the principal said, but did not lay any charges at the request of the student’s parents, who did not want to draw any further attention to their daughter.

The discipline committee decision concerning Lusk was highlighted in the June 2018 edition of Professionally Speaking, a magazine published by the Ontario College of Teachers.

The full decision can be viewed on the college’s website at Locate the “Public Protection” header, click on it, then find the Complaints and Discipline sub-header, and then the Discipline Decisions sub-header.