Langley teacher gives up certificate after sexual assault conviction

A Langley teacher has agreed to give up his teaching certificate after it was found he entered into a long-term sexual relationship with a Grade 12 student who confessed her feelings for him.

Richard Stephen Sapinski was 51 and teaching creative writing at the time when the 17-year-old girl, identified only as Student A in documents, admitted in a writing journal that she had “romantic feelings” for him during the 2008/2009 school year.

The pair began a sexual relationship shortly after in January 2009, a relationship that continued through August 2011.

The consent resolution agreement released by the B.C. College of Teachers this month noted much of the sexual activity took place in Sapinski’s home during his teaching prep blocks.

During the relationship, the student told Sapinski she suffered from depression and had engaged in self-harm.

“Sapinski suggested that she see a counsellor but ultimately undertook to counsel Student A himself,” read the documents. “In May 2009, Sapinski attempted to break off the relationship which precipitated an emotional breakdown by Student A.”Following the breakdown, Sapinski took the student to a drop-in medical clinic and notified her parents she had experienced a “meltdown.”

In July 2011, Sapinski finally ended the relationship. A month later, the student went to the summer school where Sapinski had been teaching and confronted him.

“Student A confronted Sapinski in his classroom and an emotional scene ensued in the hallway. Student A disclosed to the summer school principal that she had been involved in a sexual relationship with Sapinski that started when she was his Grade 12 student in 2009,” the documents read.

The school district then notified Langley RCMP and the B.C. College of Teachers, and recommended Sapinski’s termination. He resigned in December 2011.

A criminal investigation resulted in Sapinski’s June 2012 guilty plea to a charge of sexual assault, and he received a suspended sentence and 18 months probation.

As part of the consent resolution agreement set forth between Sapinski and the college, Sapinski, who first began teaching in 1992, is restricted from attempting to apply for another teaching certificate.

– From the Vancouver Province

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