A teacher at Western Canada High School initiated a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old he’d taught months earlier, a Calgary judge was told Wednesday.
Jason Selby, 38, is on trial for sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
According to the testimony of his alleged victim, on several occasions, Selby told her she had to keep their relationship a secret.
“[He said] ‘you cannot tell anyone about us, this is very serious, it can ruin my career.'”
The trial got underway with prosecutor Pam McCluskey’s first witness, the alleged victim who is now 23 years old. A publication ban protects the complainant’s identity.
CBC News is calling the young woman Amy.
Selby taught Amy beginning when she was in Grade 10 and all through high school, until the winter semester of her Grade 12 year.
Selby ‘unassigned from teaching duties’
Amy was 17-years-old and had graduated a couple of weeks before when she says she began having sex with her 33-year-old former teacher in July 2018. The initial contact and text messaging began when she was still a student.
The age of consent in Canada is 16-years-old unless one of the parties is in a position of trust or authority over the other.
A previous court ruling connected to the case shows Selby’s lawyer plans to “demonstrate that the relationship between the parties was not exploitative and that there existed no power imbalance in favour of the accused.”
Defence lawyer Alain Hepner will get the chance to cross examine Amy next week.
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) would only say Selby is “unassigned from teaching duties and not actively at work at this time.”
“We cannot comment further as the matter is currently before the courts,” said the CBE in a written statement.
Amy suspects Selby sleeping with another former student
Amy says she and Selby continued a sexual relationship on-and-off over the next two years until she began to feel uncomfortable about their dynamic.
In March 2021, Amy says she came across information suggesting she wasn’t the only former student Selby had pursued. That’s when her perspective shifted.
“My concern was that when he told me he had no interest in students and I was the only person he’d ever pursued anything of a sexual nature with … yes, I believed it in the moment.”
Amy said Selby began paying attention to her in 2018, toward the end of Grade 12.
That June, Amy was writing final exams ahead of graduation, and testified Selby asked her to come visit him in his classroom, which he also called his office.
“He goes, ‘You should come visit me, visit me in my office … after you’re done,'” Amy said in her testimony.
Later, she says she tracked him down and the two chatted in his empty classroom.
In the course of their conversation, Amy says Selby told her he’d learned his nickname was “Mr. Dreamy” from another former student.
Amy testified she felt there was something “flirtatious” going on between her and the teacher. She said the interaction made her feel special.
“Like he thought I was cool enough to talk to me like that to hang out after school,” she testified.
‘You better text me’
The two exchanged numbers and Amy says Shelby told her, “You better text me.”
Age was never brought up, said Amy.
“At the time I just wanted to be older, I wanted to be 18 already,” she said.
The two began texting and after exams were over, they made plans for Amy to go over to Selby’s house.
It was the first week of July when Amy made her first trip to Selby’s home. At the time, he had a young daughter so Amy says she had to wait until about 9 p.m. to go over.
Selby offered marijuana, beer: Amy
Almost immediately, Amy says Selby began lecturing her, saying things like “You cannot tell anyone about this, people could get the wrong idea … I could get in a lot of trouble.”
“I’m like, ‘Of course not, I’m not going to do that, I know,'” Amy says she responded.
“At that point I just felt really special that he was risking it in this way, I was like ‘Wow, he must actually think I’m pretty cool.'”
After that conversation, Amy said Selby offered her a beer, which she declined.
She says the two chatted about marijuana, magic mushrooms and he offered gossip about teachers at Western.
Then, Amy says, Selby asked if she wanted to smoke a joint. She agreed.
‘Felt like he was about to kiss me’
After rolling a joint in his garage, Amy says the pair got into his hot tub where they smoked the joint and the situation “got more intimate.”
“It felt like he was about to kiss me,” she testified.
As she got out of the hot tub, wearing a bra and underwear, “he says how hot I am, how sexy,” Amy testified.
She said Selby followed her into his house where she planned to change. She said he put his hand on her waist and began kissing her. The two moved into the living room and had sex on his sofa, court heard.
The sex continues
From that point, Amy testified that every three or four days, she would drive to Selby’s house. There, they would either have sex or go for a drive first and have sex after, she told Justice Sean Dunnigan on Wednesday.
Amy also said every time she saw Selby, the two would smoke marijuana together.
At one point, Amy says Selby told her “If we weren’t in this situation, we’d be dating.” She says he also told her “‘I don’t feel any differently than I did when I was 18.”
“He said, ‘Once you turn 18, you just don’t feel older.'”
Amy says she believed Selby was “making me feel the age difference wasn’t a big deal.”
Selby recognized at A&W
On one of their hangouts, Amy says she and Selby bought root beer floats in an A&W drive-thru. As they approached the pick-up window, the employee recognized the teacher, exclaiming “Mr Selby?”
“Immediately, he moved, bent forward blocking the girl’s view of me,” said Amy.
The two kept having sex after Amy turned 18. When she was home from university, the pair continued to meet up.
In January 2019, Amy says Selby contacted her about rumours that he’d heard at Western.
“He messaged me saying please don’t tell anyone about us,” Amy said in her testimony.
Amy says she was “kind of panicked.” She says Selby told her “You’d better deny it.”
She says she agreed she would.
‘Uncomfortable and kind of ashamed’
Soon after, Amy says she began to feel Selby only wanted sex. She says she also began feeling uncomfortable about her relationship with Selby. The texting slowed down and the sex became less frequent.
In 2020, Amy says she told a new boyfriend that she’d slept with her high school teacher and he was “very weirded out by it.”
“It made me feel weird, too, and super uncomfortable, and kind of ashamed,” said Amy. “I didn’t really realize it was messed up, that was the first time.”
In 2021, Amy came to believe there was at least one other teen Selby had a sexual relationship with.
By then, she says she’d also come to realize how young she was when their relationship began.
That’s when, she says, she decided to go to police.
“A lot of people when you’re that age feel like you’re grown up,” said Amy.
“I felt like an adult at the time.”