Substitute teacher Krysta Grimes was found not guilty in a sexual exploitation trial
WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.
Krysta Grimes, a substitute teacher at St. John’s accused of having sex with her underage student in 2018, has been acquitted.
Judge Vikas Khaladkar dismissed the sexual exploitation charges against her in the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon.
Reading his decision, Khaladkar said he could not accept the applicant’s credibility because of a number of “serious, significant inconsistencies” in his testimony.
Grimes jumped off the dock and hugged her attorney, Rosellen Sullivan. She dodged a question from a reporter surrounded by family and visibly emotional as she exited the courtroom.
Sullivan declined to speak to reporters.
Grimes, 34, was charged with sexual exploitation for engaging in a sexual act with a person under the age of 18 while in a position of trust or authority.
She appeared in January for a brief trial before the Supreme Court, during which prosecutors called only three witnesses: the police officer conducting the investigation against her, a member of England’s Newfoundland and Labrador school district, and the complainant himself. Grimes did not relate Position.
The complainant told the court last month that he was granted access to Grimes’ cellphone to play music during class and added himself to her Snapchat account.
He testified the two had started texting through the app, which deletes messages as soon as they’re opened.
Those messages eventually turned sexual, he said.
He claims the two met sometime in the spring of 2018 at a private location outside of St. John’s, had sexual intercourse, and continued to chat via SMS and Snapchat until December when the school board received a letter complaining about rumors that she slept with students.
But Khaladkar did not accept this story, citing the applicant’s track record of telling police details that he later changed in court.
That suggests he’s not a credible witness, the judge said, and can’t prove the encounter happened beyond a reasonable doubt.
Complainant lied to fit in: defense
During the trial, the applicant testified that he initially denied the alleged sexual relationship to protect himself and Grimes, but in later meetings with school administrators he changed his position and claimed a sexual encounter. Grimes was arrested for this allegation in August 2019.
Grimes’ attorney Rosellen Sullivan argued that the student had spread rumors that Grimes had sex with students, pointing to inconsistencies in his testimony that suggested he had concocted a story to impress his friends.
The complainant could not recall the date of their alleged meeting, where it happened or what sexual positions they took – all indications, Sullivan argued, that the meeting did not actually take place.
She also stressed the lack of hard evidence from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s investigation, which did not request location data from the complainant’s and the defendant’s mobile phones and uncovered no texts of a sexual nature between the two.
“This case is about the lack of evidence more than anything,” she said last month.
“There is no credible evidence that this offense took place … We have the word of a person who contradicted himself at every step and … a shabby investigation that enabled him to do so.”
Cheryl Gullage, a spokeswoman for the province’s English school board, said after the ruling that the district “will review today’s court decision and has nothing further to offer at this time”.
Gullage did not respond to a question about Grimes returning to teach in the District.
Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador