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Canadian teacher convicted after he used 'pen camera' to spy on female students

Ryan Jarvis (41) was charged with making video recordings of 27 female students.

Canadian Supreme Court
Canadian Supreme Court
Image: Sean Kilpatrick/PA Images

CANADA’S TOP COURT has convicted a teacher of voyeurism after he secretly filmed female students at school.

Ryan Jarvis (41) was charged with using a camera concealed inside a pen to make of video recordings of 27 female students aged between 14 to 18 years at a high school in London, Ontario where he taught.

The 35 “pen camera” videos seized by police were recorded between January 2010 and June 2011. 

They showed students wearing low-cut or close-fitting tops and were taken from above or beside them seated in classrooms, computer labs or in school hallways, capturing “more of their breasts than would be visible if the students were recorded head on,” according to court documents.

The trial judge found that students had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” under the circumstances but acquitted Jarvis citing insufficient evidence that he’d made the recordings for a sexual purpose.

An appeals court, however, then concluded the exact opposite on both points but upheld the acquittal.

The Supreme court’s ruling today was, therefore, eagerly awaited due its implications for privacy protections in an era of new technologies such as mobile phones with cameras being used in public places. 

In overturning the appeals court decision, the Supreme Court said that “there is no doubt” that the students had a “reasonable expectations of privacy.”

“A student attending class, walking down a school hallway or speaking to her teacher certainly expects that she will not be singled out by the teacher and made the subject of a secretive, minutes-long recording or series of recordings focusing on her body,” said the ruling. 

“The use of a cell phone to capture up-skirt images of women on public transit, the use of a drone to take high-resolution photographs of unsuspecting sunbathers at a public swimming pool and the surreptitious video recording of a woman breastfeeding in a quiet corner of a coffee shop would all raise similar privacy concerns.”

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The Supreme court, in sending the case back to a lower court for sentencing, also noted that the accused’s role as a teacher put him in a position of trust with the students.

He faces up to five years in prison for voyeurism.

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