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Judge calls ex-teacher's actions 'disturbing' during sentencing for sex crimes

Stephen Blackwood is a former supply teacher in the Moncton area who was sentenced to 18 more months in custody on Thursday. (Stephen Blackwood/Instagram - image credit)
Stephen Blackwood is a former supply teacher in the Moncton area who was sentenced to 18 more months in custody on Thursday. (Stephen Blackwood/Instagram - image credit)

A judge described the actions of a former Moncton-area teacher as 'quite disturbing' while sentencing him on a series of sex crimes committed in 2022.

Stephen Riley Blackwood, 38, was sentenced Thursday on a charge of assault, two charges of voyeurism, three of violating conditions and eight counts of sexual interference. Sexual interference is a charge of touching a person under 16 for a sexual purpose.

The charges relate to incidents in the Moncton area, Fredericton and Amherst, N.S., spanning six months in 2022. None of the incidents involve intercourse or touching genitalia.

Blackwood worked for several weeks in the fall of 2022 as a supply teacher for the Anglophone East School District in the Moncton area. He previously worked as a substitute teacher in the St. John's, N.L., metro region for nine years.

In essence, he used his position as a supply teacher to gain access to the children. The children trusted him. They had no reason not to. — Judge Suzanne Bernard

"All the offences have been presented to me and I can say that they are quite disturbing," said provincial court Judge Suzanne Bernard.

"The accused goes to great lengths to find himself in the presence of very young children, and most times he is alone with them. In some cases, he asked them to play games and offered them candy.

"In essence, he used his position as a supply teacher to gain access to the children. The children trusted him. They had no reason not to."

Blackwood had pleaded guilty to the charges. His defence lawyer, Dustin Caissie, and Crown prosecutor Renée Roy had jointly recommended a sentence of 3.5 years in custody with a long list of conditions.

18 more months in jail

That left Bernard to only decide whether to accept the sentence. After highlighting some of the admitted facts, going through case law and sentencing principles, Bernard ruled the sentence is appropriate in the circumstances.

Blackwood was credited for 720 days spent in custody, which will reduce the sentence he has left to serve to 18 months in jail.

Once released he will have to follow a list of conditions for 15 years. The conditions include:

  • Staying away from areas like parks, schools, community centres, pools or beaches where young people are likely to gather.

  • Avoiding working or volunteering in a role that would place him in a position of trust with children.

  • Not contacting the victims or their families.

  • Not using the internet.

He was also ordered to provide a sample of his DNA and to be placed on the sex offender registry for life.

Blackwood, sitting in the prisoner's box wearing orange jail-issued clothing, showed little reaction as the judge read her decision.

The judge ordered that nothing that could identify the victims can be reported.

Judge addresses parents

Bernard said victims in statements provided to her described a loss of dignity and trust in the school system. She said some parents felt they had failed to protect their children.

"You are not to blame," Bernard said to those parents. "The only person that is responsible here is the accused."

During a sentencing hearing in February, Roy read an agreed statement of facts that Blackwood admits.

The statement laid out a series of incidents in 2022 at schools in the Moncton area where Blackwood approached boys offering a prize for completing a challenge. In several, he then led the student away from others and lifted their shirt or sweater.

The students said they then felt something press against them that felt like bare skin.

An agreed statement of facts, which detail things Blackwood admits, include excerpts from a report by Dr. Matthew H. Logan, a criminal investigative psychologist, completed in December 2022.

Logan's report states Blackwood's actions were motivated by a sexual purpose and that he has a "sexual interest" in prepubescent males.

The voyeurism charges relate to incidents at public pools in Moncton and Dieppe over various dates in the fall of 2022.

Roy said Blackwood's phone was searched and police found numerous short videos of children in changing rooms and showers. None of the children were naked, though in one Blackwood sprayed soap on two boys in a shower.

Others seemed to have been surreptitiously filmed showing children moving through the locker room and Blackwood interacting with some of them. In several videos, Blackwood talks to the children about his YouTube channel.

Blackwood posted multiple videos to social media over recent years under the name "blamzooka" and featuring children at water parks in Ontario and New Brunswick, beaches in various locations, and the Pointe-du-Chêne wharf near Shediac.

Roy said last month that Blackwood's "behaviour" dates to at least 2017 as documented by police forces in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Ontario. There was no mention of whether he faces charges in those other provinces.

She said Blackwood worked for about 10 years as a summer camp counsellor, mainly in Ontario. He moved to Moncton with his father in the summer of 2022.

"Mr. Blackwood excused his behaviour as being linked to missing various social cues, limitations which he states are caused by his diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder," Roy said. He was diagnosed when he was nine.