A former Peter Skene Ogden Secondary drama teacher has pleaded guilty to one count of sexual interference of a person under 16 and a lesser count of assault in connection with two female youth.
Vincent Collins, 33, pleaded guilty to the two counts before Judge Linda Thomas in 100 Mile provincial court Monday, on what was expected to be the first day of his trial.
“This will ultimately save us a lot of court time,” Collins’ lawyer Ian Donaldson, Q.C. said.
Collins, of 108 Mile Ranch, was arrested in April last year on his way to work in relation to what police called a “fast-moving investigation.”
He was initially charged with two counts of sexual interference of a person under 16, sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching under 16 in connection with the incidents, which occurred between October 2020 and February 2021.
However, Crown Counsel Julie Dufour on Monday applied to amend the count of sexual assault to assault and proceed with just one count of sexual interference of a person under 16. The remaining two charges were stayed.
Dufour said in the assault charge, Collins is alleged to have touched one of the girls above her buttocks without her consent during a “playfight” at school. On the other count, Collins had allegedly been sitting next to the second girl at school when he touched her and asked her to kiss him.
The identities of the girls - who were 14 and 15 at the time - are protected under a publication ban.
Donaldson noted Collins and the second girl had a “non-teacher-student relationship where each treated the other as a friend. Mr. Collins, in his dealings with that young woman, did touch her and there was an attempt of a kiss on the cheek, as you heard.
“One significant reason why Mr. Collins wishes to proceed in this fashion is so that the complainants do not have to testify. It’s not just that his conduct was inappropriate,” Donaldson said. “It’s that he does not want these two young women to testify, which would be an uncomfortable position, I am confident.”
Collins will be sentenced at a later date, following a pre-sentencing report.