Ashley Jansen, a former teacher’s aide from Durham Region, is speaking out and calling for accountability after a judge ruled that a former student falsely accused her of sexual assault.
The allegations cost Jansen her job and spurred a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) probe that temporarily prohibited her from being alone with her own children.
Jansen was arrested by Durham Regional Police in September 2022 and charged with sexual assault and sexual interference after a student came forward about an alleged incident that occurred at a Durham Region elementary school in 2018.
“Everything I knew was taken from me,” Jansen told Global News.
“I had to prove I wasn’t this person that now the media and the police had portrayed me to be.”
But Jansen’s life was turned upside down prior to her arrest, when she said CAS showed up at her door and requested that she sign a document stating that said she couldn’t be alone with her children.
“We knew nothing. This went on for three weeks… I couldn’t be alone with the kids.”
“It created a really bad dynamic at our home because I was crying all the time. I couldn’t do all the things I’ve ever done.”
Following her arrest, Durham Regional Police issued a media release that stated, “investigators want to ensure there are no other victims.”
Police said Jansen was employed with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board from 2010 to 2021 but was no longer employed by a school board.
Jansen said this is when it all “fell apart.”
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“We had to hire a private investigator; we had to hire a lawyer. And I had to sit in silence attached to one of the most horrible things you could ever think of.”
While Jansen was acquitted of the charges in November 2023, she says the acquittal “doesn’t change much.”
“We’ve had this discussion at home many times. While the acquittal is great in the eyes of the law, it changes nothing, because my name was all over the news.”
“People assume that if there’s an arrest and the police are involved, there has to be credible information,” she said.
When it came to the Court’s decision, Ontario Court Justice Peter Tetley wrote that “this judgement serves as a cautionary example as to the fact an injustice can occur when appropriate and available investigative steps are not pursued.”
In his decision, the judge also referred to the complainant’s mental health at the time, and said he had a history of “violence, falsehood… and behavioural disturbance.”
“The story at the face of it seems unreasonable. And then with the variations that the young person told, as Justice Tetley rightly said, it warranted more thorough investigation, and that never happened,” said Alan Richter, Jansen’s lawyer.
Richter says the police service needs to have a review of its sexual assault unit and special victim’s unit, “so this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.”
Ken Jansen, Ashley’s husband, told Global News this all could have been prevented “had people done their job.”
Now that Jansen has been acquitted, the couple is pushing for accountability.
“We’re really hoping to sit down with someone and talk and just find out how this happened and how the people we trusted to help us or to protect us are the ones that failed us the most,” said Ken.
The couple says they’ve tried to speak with Durham Regional Police, but say they have “refused” to meet with them.
Global News reached out to Durham Regional Police, CAS, the teacher’s union and the school board, which was the only party to provide a comment.
A chairperson for Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board said in a statement, “In matters such as these, our position is to work cooperatively with local police to support all aspects of investigations as required.”
“We appreciate that this has been a very difficult situation for Ms. Jansen. As a learning organization, we are committed to ongoing review to ensure due diligence in our processes to best represent the interests of our students and staff,” the chairperson said.
Jansen is now trying to move forward and said she’s focusing on her family.
“My family needs me. I haven’t been able to be a 100% parent.”
“I’ve really been focused on survival the past little while. And I think, you know, we’ve asked for answers, and we haven’t gotten any. So that’s where our focus is now, you know, how do we make this not happen to somebody else? How do we make this individual who caused this to happen accountable?”
— With files from Global News’ Caryn Lieberman and Greg Davis
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