A Cape Breton school teacher has been found guilty of using Snapchat to lure a teenage girl for the purpose of facilitating the offence of child pornography.
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Jason Daniel Pentecost, 43, of Westmount was convicted Friday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on a single count of child luring. The offence occurred between February 2016 and June 2017.
The suspended teacher was originally accused of three counts of child luring in relation to complaints made by two females who were aged 15 and 16 at the time.
Both complainants and Pentecost testified during a three-day trial held in July. A publication ban prohibits naming the two females in this case along with any information that may identify them.
Justice John Bodurtha said Friday that there were major concerns related to Pentecost’s credibility given his police statement and his assertion that he did not know the 15-year-old’s age.
“I find Mr. Pentecost engaged in a grooming type of behaviour ... he disguised his identity when engaging in Snapchat discussions with her, he snapped with her for close to a year, and discussed some of the innocuous things that were discussed in the case law such as her school - and friends,” Bodurtha said.
“He admits to receiving inappropriate photos from her, such as her breasts underneath clothing, and as for the nude photos, he would not deny that those were sent.”
During the trial, Pentecost’s lawyer Tony Mozvik noted that there were no meetings between his client and either of the complainants. There was no touching, kissing or any form of physical contact.
The court heard that Pentecost first posed as a teen on social media and then later as a 20-year-old Cape Breton University student.
Pentecost also sent a photograph of an erect penis to one of the girls, although it was not verified to be his own.
In return, the teen sent pictures of her breasts and buttocks.
The second complainant testified that Pentecost wanted her to send him sexual pictures as well.
Under re-direct, she responded by saying that Pentecost hinted at sending photographs.
She said screenshots also showed Pentecost broaching the topic of sex, but those captures were never submitted as part of the Crown’s evidence.
“The court has difficulty with the Crown looking for a conviction on the basis of a hint and something that was perceived,” said Bodurtha.
Pentecost tapped his feet vigorously, at times shook his head back-and-forth and breathed heavily as the judge delivered the verdict.
While leaving the courtroom, he could be heard muttering curse words. He discussed the outcome of the decision in an examination room with his supporters where a loud bang could be heard.
The judge said it was not made entirely clear whether Pentecost had intended to meet the 15-year-old.
“The court finds that the chats themselves were sexual in nature and were inappropriate and it was previously mentioned Mr. Pentecost intentionally deceived his identity. In fact, when the (girl) learned of the true identity the Snapchats ceased.”
Pentecost was later charged in June 2017 after the teens reported the online chats to a school guidance counsellor.
A pre-sentence report will be compiled for Pentecost who has no criminal record.
He is set to return to court in Sydney on March 3 for a status update prior to his sentencing.
On Friday, a Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education spokesperson was contacted for an update on Pentecost’s status as an employee.
A message left was unreturned by press time.