Former Paul Kane High School teacher Bryce Hughes was handed a five-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to two sexual offence charges.
Hughes, who was first charged by St. Albert RCMP on March 31, 2022, was a physical education and sports medicine teacher at Paul Kane starting in 2016 until being suspended by the school board in February last year. Hughes' employment with St. Albert Public Schools was officially terminated as of April 30, 2022.
The Gazette reported last June St. Albert RCMP charged Hughes with two additional offences after a second victim came forward.
On Jan. 30 at the St. Albert Provincial Court Hughes pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation and one count of making child pornography, while the remaining charges were withdrawn. He did not speak during his appearance.
The five-year sentence was a joint submission by Crown prosecutor Morgan McClelland and defence attorney Peter Shipanoff. Hughes faces four years for the sexual exploitation charge, and the mandatory minimum sentence of one year for making child pornography.
As part of the joint submission, the court heard an agreed statement of facts that accompanied Hughes' guilty plea, but it was placed under a publication ban.
Prior to Judge Gordon Putnam's decision, McClelland told the court that the Crown believed an "appropriate sentence would be quite a bit higher," but Hughes' guilty plea and other mitigating factors, also under a publication ban, led to the recommended five year sentence.
"The harm ripples into the community in cases like this," McClelland told the court, saying five years was the "lowest possible sentence that would be fit."
On top of the five-year sentence, Putnam ordered Hughes to be added to the national sex offender registry for a period of 20 years; have no contact with the victim; and a 25-year prohibition on having contact with anyone under the age of 16 except when permission from a parent or guardian is granted and under supervision by an adult who is aware of his charges.
Hughes also faces a 25-year prohibition of seeking or obtaining employment or a volunteer position that would involve him being placed in a position of authority over anyone under the age of 16.
Hughes will serve his sentence at the Bowden Institution near Innisfail, Putnam said, so he will have access to rehabilitative programming for sex offenders.