Former West Kelowna teacher Bradley Furman teared up while apologizing to those he’s wronged over the past couple of years during the third day of sentencing proceedings on Jan. 23.
Furman, who pleaded guilty last year to charges of sexual exploitation of a young person, attempting to pervert justice and three charges of breaching bail conditions, said he is “deeply sorry” to the former student he victimized, her family and the courts.
“The relationship that happened between the student and myself was my responsibility,” he said as his voice started to break. “I’m deeply sorry for all the pain that I’ve caused them as a family and the wedge I drove between them. It is my greatest hope and wish that they can move past this together and leave this traumatic event that I’ve caused behind them.”
Furman went on, apologizing to the courts for the multiple breaches of conditions of his bail.
“My disregard for the laws and conditions is inexcusable,” said Furman. “Since being incarcerated, I’ve had a lot of time to think about my actions and I can see how truly deplorable they were.
“It is my sincerest intention to fully comply with any conditions given to me and not repeat any mistakes I’ve made in the past.”
If his sentence includes a probation order, Furman said he would relish the opportunity to prove his respect and compliance to the court by not breaching it in any way.
Crown prosecutor David Grabavac prefaced Furman’s statement by saying “he has had no issues lying in the past.”
The Crown is seeking a 71-month sentence, while defence is suggesting between 30 and 36 months. In December, Grabavac said Furman had lied 122 times about disobeying court orders.
During Thursday’s proceedings, the court heard submissions from defence counsel Claire Hatcher, who said the Crown’s proposed sentence is “more fitting of manslaughter.”
“He does think about the damage he’s done every day,” she said. “It’s a very impactful deterrent that Mr. Furman, who is a first time offender, is now facing life as a sex offender. He won’t be able to travel much at all. These are real consequences that have already been kneaded out.”
Hatcher argued the lighter sentence would be in line with sentences given to other teachers who pursued sexual relationships with older students, adding “not even in Alberta,” do cases like this receive such harsh sentences.
According to Hatcher, Furman is a very good candidate for rehabilitation and is “by no means an unrepentant, evil predator who attacked a child.”
The Crown gave it’s submissions during the first two days of the sentencing hearing in December.
At the time, Grabavac told the court the relationship began when the girl was 17 and Furman was 28. They began speaking on social media during spring break in 2018. Topics of discussion included video games of mutual interest as well as Furman’s marital issues, to which the girl provided advice.
“This is not a Hallmark channel love story,” Grabavac said.
“It’s not two teenagers; it’s not two people on a level playing field.
“It was a calculated, deliberate attack for (Furman’s) own sexual gratification.”
Investigators obtained 2,700 pages of messages between Furman and the student, some of which point to the relationship continuing for another 13 months after the initial arrest.
Furman was then arrested four more times for breaching conditions of his bail, specifically for making contact with the girl and members of her family.
As of now, Furman has served 205 days in pre-trial custody and will receive a 308-day credit to whatever sentence he is given.
Furman’s sentencing was adjourned with a court date set for Feb. 11 for Judge Clarke Burnett to give his decision.