WARNING: This article contains details of sexual assault
A Moncton man repeatedly sexually touched students at schools while working as a supply teacher in the fall of 2022 and filmed boys in public pool locker rooms, a judge heard Friday.
The details of the crimes committed by Stephen Riley Blackwood were outlined in a Moncton courtroom at his sentencing hearing. Judge Suzanne Bernard will issue her sentencing decision March 14.
Blackwood, 38, has pleaded guilty to an assault, two counts of voyeurism, three counts 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.
"Mr. Blackwood victimized some children at the schools where he was a supply teacher as well as children at public pools he accessed," Crown prosecutor Renée Roy said as she read a lengthy statement of facts that Blackwood admits.
None of the incidents involve intercourse or touching genitalia, Roy said.
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.
Roy outlined 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. Blackwood would then place candy in their hands.
Roy said one incident happened Nov. 2, 2022, at a school in the Moncton region that was reported to school administration. Roy said it led to a direction for Blackwood to be removed from the supply teaching list.
However, another incident occurred while he was working at a Moncton school the following day.
The judge ordered that nothing that could identify the victims can be reported.
Recorded boys in pool locker rooms
The voyeurism charges relate to incidents at public pools in Moncton and Dieppe over various dates in the fall of 2022.
Roy said that after Blackwood's arrest, his phone was seized and searched. On it, police found numerous short videos showing changing rooms and showers.
Roy said none of the videos showed children who were naked. One video appeared to show Blackwood spraying 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.
Blackwood was first arrested after incidents were reported at Fredericton hotel pools in November 2022.
He was released on bail under conditions to stay away from places where children may be present, but within six days was arrested after going to a hotel pool in Moncton.
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.
Excused behaviour with autism diagnosis
Roy said 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.
The prosecutor said that even after getting clear direction that his behaviour is inappropriate, his behaviour continued. He was prescribed various medications to treat his mental health, including for anxiety and depression.
The agreed facts include excerpts from a report by Dr. Matthew H. Logan, a criminal investigative psychologist, completed in December 2022.
Roy said Logan's report states Blackwood's actions were motivated by a sexual purpose and that he has a "sexual interest" in prepubescent males.
The report says Blackwood is "likely an individual with a rich fantasy life that fulfills his need for stimulation by being in the presence of prepubescent males."
Stephen Blackwood, 38, taught in Newfoundland and New Brunswick schools. (RCMP/Submitted)
Logan said Blackwood may suffer from a sexual deviancy called partialism, which involves being aroused by a body part, such as a prepubescent's naked chest or the feeling of an upper torso pressed against a naked chest.
The report also describes how he may have a sexual deviancy called paraphilia involving a pattern of recurring sexual urges or fantasies about children.
The excerpts from Logan's report are part of the statement of facts Blackwood has admitted.
After outlining the facts, Roy went through a series of previous Canadian cases touching on whether a person's mental health can affect their moral blameworthiness. Roy said in Blackwood's case, the evidence isn't sufficient to reduce his moral blameworthiness.
Victims feel loss of dignity, trust
Roy said victim impact statements submitted to the court by children or their parents speak to a loss of trust with the school system and with activities like sporting events.
"Most of these victims, and the families of the victims … speak of that feeling of the loss of dignity as a result of being victimized," Roy said.
Roy said she struggled with a sentencing recommendation given the lack of similar cases in Canada.
Ultimately she and defence lawyer Dustin Caissie jointly recommended a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
Blackwood has been in pre-trial custody for 439 days, which when given the standard 1.5 days credit equates to about 22 months in custody.
Roy said that effectively would mean he has 10 more months to serve in custody.
She said she believes the recommendation is fair in the circumstances of the case, though added "albeit a little bit on the light side."
The sentence would also include a range of other conditions, some lasting up to 15 years, which include not attending public parks, pools or schools, a ban on accessing the internet, not having a job that would put Blackwood in a position of trust of youth and to avoid contact with the victims.
Apologizes for actions
Blackwood told the judge he can't explain his behaviour.
"I'm not using my mental health as an excuse, I simply wish the court to be aware of my issues," Blackwood said.
He apologized to the victims, their families as well as teachers and school administrators. He pledged to follow his conditions once released.
Blackwood will remain in custody pending sentencing in March.