MANDEL: Former student sues teacher charged with sexually assaulting her

When she saw his mug shot, with the headline that he’d been charged with sexually assaulting a student, all the painful memories came flooding back.

Toronto Police had issued a statement that they’d arrested Wexford Collegiate School of the Arts teacher John Kraft, 57, after a female student alleged she’d been sexually assaulted multiple times between late last year and March.

“I saw it scrolling down my Facebook timeline,” she recalls of the article that appeared back in April. “I wasn’t shocked.”

She finally knew what she had to do. She picked up the phone and called police. Now Kraft stands charged with sexually assaulting her as well.

And on Thursday, she filed a $1-million lawsuit against the teacher and the Toronto District School Board, alleging he groomed her for years and the board did nothing to protect her.

John Kraft, 57, a teacher at Wexford Collegiate, is charged in an ongoing sexual exploitation investigation. (Toronto Police/Handout)

Her name covered by a court-ordered publication ban, the former student is a model now, poised and beautiful, but inside, still struggling to cope. Back in 2010, Kraft had been her set design teacher at Wexford and she holds him responsible for the mental health issues she’s suffered ever since. She had to drop out of university and her anxiety and depression have made navigating her 20s increasingly difficult.

“She’s not where a 26-year-old should be at this stage because of this,” says lawyer Darryl Singer, who, along with Diamond & Diamond colleague Sandra Zisckind, is representing her.

She blames that night.

In her claim, she alleges that during her last few years of high school, Kraft would often make inappropriate and sexually suggestive comments and “took every opportunity to touch her in a sexual manner.” She claims he would also make disparaging remarks about her boyfriend not being “man enough” for her.

“At the prom, it all came to a head,” she says.

Wexford Collegiate School of the Arts in the Pharmacy Ave.-Lawrence Ave. E. area. (GOOGLE MAPS)

She’d been upset because her date didn’t want to dance with her. Kraft, she says, suddenly took her in his arms and waltzed her around the room in front of everyone. “I remember feeling really helpless,” she recalls. “I was 17. He’s a year older than my dad.”

“At this point, other teachers should have warned Kraft and were supposed to instruct him to stay away from a 17-year-old student,” says her statement of claim. “Their lack of action allowed Kraft to continue with his planned sexual assault that devastated (her) life.”

When the dance ended, she alleges, he suddenly “groped and kissed her in front of her entire class” while the teacher chaperones did nothing. “It was disgusting,” she recalls. “I was really in shock.”

In her lawsuit, she alleges the TDSB should have protected her since they were “aware of the constant rumours about Kraft’s inappropriate involvement with other students. It is inconceivable that TDSB did not hear about the constant rumours that were circulating about Kraft for years before the sexual assault.”

Adds Zisckind: “If they see this going on, you cannot sweep it under the rug, you cannot pretend it doesn’t happen. You are obliged to do something, morally, ethically and legally.”

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None of the allegations have been proven in court. Kraft could not be reached for comment. The TDSB has yet to be served. “We will need time to review the claim and prepare a response prior to commenting,” said spokesman Ryan Bird.

She won’t forget the humiliation or the “slut shaming” that ensued after the alleged assault, as if she was the one who’d done something wrong. Even her boyfriend was angry with her. So she shut down and never even told her parents for years.

Diamond and Diamond lawyers Darryl Singer and Sandra Zisckind at the Toronto Sun office on Aug. 9, 2018. (ERNEST DOROSZUK, Toronto Sun)

According to her claim, she’s been in a “dark spot” ever since. “I didn’t realize it was affecting me, to be honest. I developed really bad anxiety. I couldn’t leave my house. I couldn’t function. I tried to kill myself at 19. All of these years of not dealing with this was eating me up inside.”

As soon as she read that Kraft had been charged in relation to another student, she knew she had to come forward. It was time to stop blaming herself.

“When I saw Mr. Kraft’s face, that was the trigger to wrap my mind around everything,” she explains. “I’m finally taking my mental health seriously. And I just want him to know that he didn’t break me.

“Justice is coming.”

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies

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