Public records of provincial bodies governing teachers provide only a glimpse of a bigger story. Gabrielle Barkany, spokesperson for the Ontario College of Teachers, says there has been no increase in female teachers’ licences being revoked for sexually related misconduct in recent years: “Our statistics do not indicate an increase or a speciﬁc trend.” Yet many cases involving teachers, both male and female, don’t come to trial or public scrutiny.
This month, the Internet exploded when two Louisiana teachers, Shelley Dufresne, 32, and Rachel Respess, 24, were arrested for “carnal knowledge of a minor,” for allegedly engaging in a ménage à trois with a 16-year-old male student after he bragged about it.
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.
The unspoken assumption among researchers is that cases involving teachers are under-reported, says Cortoni.
It’s believed boys self-disclose more than girls while the relationship is ongoing, says Shoop—“they’re pretty excited and proud of it.” Still, generally only ﬁve to 15 per cent of people who are abused ever tell anybody, he says. provide disciplinary actions online but other provinces, including those in the Maritimes, do not.