London News & Search
Ex-teacher Jamie Gardiner traded the respect of his co-workers for invading their most personal space.
And, they told him Monday, they are still trying to recover.
“You were a colleague of mine in a position of trust who breached this trust in a perverted way,” one woman said while reading her victim impact statement.
Gardiner, 39, has pleaded guilty to voyeurism and child porn charges for secretly filming his co-workers in a staff change room at Ashley Oaks elementary school with a camera hidden in a backpack.
He is facing at least one year in jail, the mandatory sentence for his child pornography convictions, crimes he committed when he filmed a 16-year old high school co-op student.
The rest were female co-workers who had no idea they had been filmed in the change room until the camera was discovered more than two years ago.
Shortly after his arrest in 2015, Gardiner was fired from his special-education teaching position at the school by the Thames Valley District school board.
While Gardiner won’t be sentenced until later this fall, Monday was set aside for most of the victim impact statements. Twelve were submitted to the court.
Much of the courtroom was filled with the female co-workers who were filmed while changing into their bathing suits to work in the therapeutic swimming pool at the school.
The 29 videos of 16 victims found on a thumb drive and his cellphone captured their naked buttocks and genitalia. Some were made as far back as 2011.
But as the case has slowly made its way through the court system, the victims have struggled with the painful invasion of privacy.
“The case before you is like an iceberg,” one woman told Superior Court Justice Marc Garson. “There’s so much more under the surface.”
The woman, who said she wasn’t identified as a victim in the case because she had no distinctive markings on her body that would conclusively point to her being filmed, said the provincial ministry of labour didn’t investigate the school and worker’s compensation wouldn’t accept their claims because the case was before the courts.
“The system has failed,” she said tearfully, adding she has been left shattered by Gardiner’s “vexatious behaviour.”
In the 12 victim impact statements filed to the court, many talked about their ongoing anxieties, stress, fears in public washrooms and change rooms and how they have changed jobs.
One woman, whose victim impact statement was read by assistant Crown attorney James Spangenberg, spoke of her stress becoming so intense that some of her hair has fallen out.
They are all terrified that somehow the images have ended up on the Internet. At the previous court hearing, Garson was told there is no evidence that the videos were shared.
The woman who found the camera told the court that she feels “completely sexually violated.
“He filmed me before, during and after my pregnancies. . . . He witnessed my body go through more changes than I would even allow my husband to see.”
She told Garson that Gardiner’s refusal to let the police look at his computer hard drives “means that my feelings of vulnerability won’t end at the conclusion of this case.”
One woman, who had her victim impact statement read by a victim-witness case worker, said Gardiner filmed her when she was pregnant: “You took the joy of that time from me. What a horrible thing to have to go through at such a time.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the horrible, disgusting violation you chose to make on me and so many others.”
She said she experienced panic attacks in the classroom and had flashbacks.
“Realizing that you had seen me without my clothes on, and without my permission, haunts me,” she wrote.
Gardiner’s crimes have affected her relationship with her child, who she said “deserves a happy mom, and instead has a mother who is in pain, going to counselling, and fighting the need for drugs to balance emotions.”
Another woman told the court that she is having trouble coming to terms with the enormous breach of trust by a co-worker.
“You used my body without permission. . . . You had this intimate knowledge of me and I had no idea. When I think of the magnitude of lies and deception you held for so long, it makes me want to vomit,” she said.
Gardiner returns to court on Oct 16 for at least two more victim impact statements and sentencing arguments from the Crown and the defence.
London News & Search