London, Ontario-based high school English teacher Ryan Jarvis has been found guilty of voyeurism for a secretly filming 27 female students aged 14 to 18 with a camera pen in 2010 and 2011. Jarvis used a camera pen to spy and film on the teenage girls, pointing the device mostly at the students' breasts while they attended classes, and spent time in hallways, the cafeteria, and at track practice.
He would stand close to the female students, holding the pen in such a way as to hide the fact he was filming them. All the students were fully clothed, and the videos were seconds to minutes in duration. None of the students were aware they were being filmed at the time. In June of 2011, he was caught red-handed with the camera pen.
Jarvis was first acquitted of voyeurism in 2015 when a London judge ruled that while the videos were indeed an invasion of the students' privacy, he wasn't convinced they were made for a sexual purpose (which is necessary for a conviction to be established).
Jarvis' conviction will carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and he can expect to face a disciplinary hearing from the Ontario College of Teachers in response to his unprofessional conduct and sexually and psychologically abusive behaviours toward students. He has since agreed to stop teaching until the hearing finishes.
BREAKING: Supreme Court of Canada overturns acquittal of former Beal teacher Ryan Jarvis's voyeurism charge involving students, orders a conviction be registered and the case returned for sentencing. Background: https://t.co/hqg0YHAQjr #LdnOnt— London Free Press (@LFPress) February 14, 2019
In 2017, the verdict was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal in a split decision. Two-thirds of the panel's judges decided that while the London judge's ruling that the videos were not for a sexual purpose was, in fact, incorrect, students didn't "have a reasonable expectation of privacy while at school", referencing the rampant use of video surveillance on school campuses.
Justice Grant Huscroft, the dissenting appeal court judge and a former law professor at Western University, said he would have registered a conviction, arguing that the students' sexual and personal integrity was compromised by the recordings.
The case was then sent to the Supreme Court of Canada. The issues of whether students had reasonable expectations of privacy while in school and if the videos were made for a sexual purpose (as determined by the legal definition of voyeurism) were at the core of the Supreme Court's decision, which was intended to establish new precedence regarding what constitutes reasonable expectations of privacy in public spaces, including within high schools.
When the Supreme Court delivered its decision, the court emphasized that students could not have "reasonably expected" to be recorded by Jarvis while talking to him.
Jarvis had argued that since the recordings were made in common areas of the school, the students knew other people could be looking at them. The court refused to accept that argument; comparing the students to women in the changeroom at a public pool, people can expect that other people might see them undressing, but couldn't reasonably expect that they might be recorded in secret.
“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,” the decision reads.