'I was frozen': Student describes alleged sexual assaults at Vancouver school
VANCOUVER -- The 17-year-old student whose bombshell allegations against a Vancouver band teacher sparked a sexual assault investigation is coming forward to describe what she says happened to her – and also the detective work she says she did on her own before telling police.
The teen says the teacher, Kyle Ledingham, kissed her and put his hands on her four times in a band room at Prince of Wales Secondary on Vancouver’s west side when she was in Grade 11. She says Ledingham drove her to SkyTrain stations and to a golf club, propositioned her for oral sex, and offered to let her stay the night at his house.
She says she looked up to Ledingham, whom she had met when she was in Grade 6, and had confided in him over the years about previous sexual abuse she says she had suffered at the hands of another person.
"I’ve known him for years so for this to happen to me is shocking as well. He seemed like one of the most caring, supportive people I’d ever met," she told CTV News.
Ledingham has not been charged with any offence and has signed a temporary undertaking not to teach pending an investigation by the commissioner of the province’s teacher regulation branch. That’s in parallel to the criminal investigation, which Vancouver police say resulted in a report to Crown counsel late last year.
"The complainant in this matter has chosen to take to social media, and now the media proper, to air her allegation," Ledingham’s lawyer, Claire Hatcher, said in a statement to CTV News.
"Mr. Ledingham and his family and friends are choosing not to engage in the same type of conduct," Hatcher said.
The lawyer said her client is presumed innocent under the law and maintains his innocence. She says if he ever does get charged they will mount a "full and vigourous defence at trial."
In April of 2019, the teen, whom CTV News is not identifying, said that she was alone in the band room with Ledingham. She says he asked for a hug.
"After I was giving him the hug, I tried to push away. He held onto me and then he looked me in the eyes and then he kissed me. He put his mouth on my mouth and then jammed his tongue into my mouth and I would say he started exploring, and his hands started exploring my body and touching my chest," she said.
"I was frozen, having flashbacks about what happened to me in my past. I’m feeling I’m in the same position. I don’t know what to do. I’m there, vulnerable, a huge sign on my head saying ‘I’m vulnerable, take advantage of me again,’" she said.
The teen alleged this happened four times in the band room at Prince of Wales over April and May. On another occasion, he allegedly propositioned her while dropping her off at a golf club.
The teen says she struggled with what to do and ultimately left Prince of Wales. Once at another school, she said she realized she owed it to other students to do something. She said she didn't come forward about her previous abuse until years later, with no proof, and authorities did very little.
"If I was going to report him, I’ll need some evidence. So I decided to call him and confront him and recorded the entire call," she said.
She posted a portion of that call she says she had with Ledingham on social media.
"You tried to take off my pants once, no, twice," she says.
"No," a male voice replies.
"You unbuttoned it," she says.
"I was just teasing you," a male voice says.
"You unzipped it," she says.
"I was just…" the male voice says.
"You still did it!" she says.
"OK, well, I’m really sorry about it," the male voice says.
The teen says she gave the recording to the Vancouver police in September. Crown prosecutors are now reviewing the file.
A Vancouver School Board spokesperson said when officials learned about the situation staff immediately informed the Teacher Regulation Branch. "There were no known concerns about the teacher. The District has rigorous processes in place when hiring teachers and other staff, including a criminal record check," a spokesperson said.
The teen said she has faced plenty of blow-back on social media for what she posted. She wants anyone being abused to hear her message.
"I know it is scary to come out with your story and you’re not alone. There will always be people like me to help support you and hear your story," she said.