Former Toronto Jewish day school teacher Stephen Schacter has been sentenced to five years in prison for sex offences against boys.
Schacter received the sentence in Ontario Superior Court on Sept. 13. He was convicted last November on three counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference and one count of gross indecency.
The court heard that the offences occurred between 1982 and 2002. There were four complainants in the case, but a publication ban prevents the identification of witnesses.
The kippah-wearing Schacter, 58, showed no emotion when he was led away in handcuffs.
Despite presenting himself as a “personable and charismatic” man who is “pious and godly in the eyes of his community,” Judge David Corbett pronounced Schacter as being in “profound denial” about his past.
For two years in his 20s, Schacter committed sexual offences against a boy who was 11 at the time, and this “had a significant impact” on the boy’s life, Corbett said. The other boys were eight years old at the time of the offences, which were committed when the boys were in primary school, the judge added.
“Sir, you are obviously attracted to young boys,” Corbett said, adding that Schacter is at risk to reoffend.
Schacter taught at Eitz Chaim Schools between 1986 and 2004. He also helped students with their work in the school’s library.
He was an office administrator, student supervisor and supply teacher at United Synagogue Day School (now Robbins Hebrew Academy) from 2004 to 2006.
He was also a substitute teacher at Yeshiva Yesodei HaTorah, an all-boys Orthodox Jewish school that one witness at Schacter’s trial attended.
In victim impact statements delivered at Schacter’s sentencing hearing last month, two former students had harrowing tales of the effects of Schacter’s abuse.
One said Schacter’s “sickening actions” affected him every day and led to confusion and anxiety. He said he would lash out physically and emotionally, suffered “great shame” and was emotionally unavailable. The abuse took a “tremendous” physical and mental toll. He said no child should ever have a lifetime of pain, embarrassment and sadness.
The other victim said Schacter had presented a caring and friendly persona. The man said he became angry after the attacks and developed anxiety, migraines and panic attacks. It all had a “serious” impact on his life.
The Crown had asked for a prison term of six years. Joseph Kappy, Schacter’s lawyer, sought a sentence of 18 months less a day in a mental health facility. It was “never easy for him to fit in,” Kappy said of his client. “He’s learned very hard lessons.… Time has not been kind to him…. He is hurt and confused.”
Schacter has been “excommunicated from synagogue life” and “is now a pariah,” Kappy said.
At the sentencing, Kappy requested that Schacter be sent to a facility where his religious needs could best be accommodated.
Schacter did not testify at his trial but addressed the court at his sentencing hearing in August. He said was “sorry” and “very remorseful” for his past actions. “I never intended to hurt any of my students.”
He said he’s been “devastated by the impact” of his offences, which “derailed my life.”
He “always tried to be kind, helpful and nurturing” and “feels the pain and anger” of his accusers, he said, adding, “I realize I need help.”
Schacter said he stopped teaching in 2009 and that he surrendered his teaching licence. He said he later worked as an insurance broker.
In a separate case, he was sentenced last March to six months in prison for possessing child pornography.