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Former Saskatoon teacher 'crossed a line,' Crown claims in closing arguments

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Closing arguments in the trial of a former Saskatoon teacher charged with sexual exploitation of a student wrapped up Friday morning.

The trial for Matthew Tumback, a former Tommy Douglas Collegiate science teacher, began on Monday.

Earlier in the trial, a former student testified she had sex with Tumbach in his home in December of 2011. She was 17 years old at the time.

Tumbach testified the student came to his home to discuss an urgent personal matter, but said they did not have sex.

In her closing argument, Senior Crown Prosecutor Sheryl Fillo said inviting a student to his home outside of school hours is unusual behaviour.

“What he did crossed a line,” she said.

Fillo said the former student thought it was love, and said after time in therapy she came forward with the allegations.

“It was only in therapy someone pointed out the relationship was not what it was,” Fillo said.

She said there were a “number” of issues in Tumbach’s credibility.

“There is sufficient evidence to find the accused guilty,” Fillo said.

Tumbach admitted to having sex with the former student, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, but said it was after she graduated.

That's the version of events he outlined to the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board, which investigated the student’s allegations in 2020.

Mike Nolin, Tumbach’s defence lawyer, argued the former teacher’s story has been consistent throughout the trial.

“He has very vivid memories of that time frame that are anchored by Facebook messages,” Nolin said.

Nolin said the Facebook messages he submitted into evidence earlier in the trial show the reason for the December 2011 meeting.

(Dan Shingoose / CTV News)

Tumbach testified the former student was dealing with a serious personal matter and he took the most “proactive” step by having her come to his home.

“At best his evidence is believable, at worst it’s plausible,” Nolin said.

Nolin said the former student and her friend who testified for the Crown both “misremembered” details from 2011.

He said the former student admitted to struggling with drugs and alcohol in the past, which may have impacted her memory.

Nolin said Tumbach doesn’t have to prove he’s innocent, the Crown has to prove he’s guilty.

Justice Colin Clackson has reserved his decision until January 23. 

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