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‘If love is a crime that makes a pariah of you ... then so be it ... love is worth anything'

David Boyce: Charged with sexually exploiting a student, former R.D. Parker Collegiate drama teacher remains unrepentant and as visible in the community as ever
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"If love is a crime that makes a pariah of you ... then so be it ... love is worth anything. When you find it hold onto it and never give it up."

David Boyce, 56, the former R.D. Parker Collegiate drama teacher charged with sexually exploiting a girl while teaching at the high school and breaching his bail recognizance within 10 days of his initial arrest by contacting her, posted on his Facebook page last night, "If love is a crime that makes a pariah of you ... then so be it ... love is worth anything. When you find it hold onto it and never give it up." The girl he is alleged to have exploited posted a very similar statement on her Facebook page as well last night: "If love is a crime that so be it...love is worth anything. When you find it hold onto it and never give up on it. love will always be stronger then hatered [sic] be strong and you will always win in some way."

Boyce remains free on bail and is set to appear again May 18 at 10 a.m. in provincial court in Thompson on three criminal charges, according to court records from April 18. He is charged with committing an offence because he was in "a position of trust or authority towards a young person, who is a person with whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency or who is in a relationship with a young person that is exploitative of the young person, and who touching for a sexual purpose, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of the young person," contrary to Section 153(1)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada. The maximum sentence upon conviction is 10 years in a federal penitentiary. He also faces two breach of recognizance charges for allegedly contacting the girl he is accused of sexually exploiting and failing to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

The federal Department of Justice lists as examples of such persons in positions of trust or authority "a teacher, religious leader, baby-sitter or doctor."

Whether a relationship is considered to be exploitative, the Department of Justice says, for "the 16 or 17 year old will depend upon the nature and circumstances of the relationship, e.g., the age of the young person, the age difference between the young person and their partner, how the relationship developed and how the partner may have controlled or influenced the young person. As well, 16 and 17 year olds cannot consent to sexual activity that involves prostitution or pornography."

Since his release from custody April 5, after being brought into provincial court in the Provincial Building in leg irons and handcuffs late in the afternoon before the long holiday Easter weekend, Boyce has been highly visible in the community, telephoning and e-mailing the media, as well as meeting in person, and submitting his resume places to apply for jobs. He said on April 6 the day after his most recent release from custody his access to a computer has been limited to using one at the library to check for e-mail and reply to messages.

On April 13, Boyce posted on his Facebook page: "love living in a small town. always have...but the small town politics and rumor mill can get a little out of hand."

The criminal charges against Boyce do not appear to have hurt, at least more than very briefly initially, whatever popularity he has with his Facebook "friends." While a handful disappeared after news of his initial arrest was broadcast and printed widely April 2-3, within 10 days he actually had 10 more Facebook friends than before his arrest.

Boyce said April 7 he believed news coverage of his case to date had been fair and he had no quarrel with any details published. He said his most recent divorce – his third – decree was granted in the Court of Queen's Bench April 2 – the same day he was arrested on the breach charge and spent 72 hours in custody in the Public Safety Building basement holding cells of the RCMP detachment at 122 Selkirk Ave. and the holding cells in the Provincial Building from the time of his arrest on the breach of recognizance charge April 2 at 5 p.m. until he was released at 5 p.m. April 5.

While news media often look to use fairly neutral photographs of accused persons in criminal cases, Boyce, one of the most flamboyant figures in Thompson, acknowledged few or no such photos of him like that are likely to be found, so again he had no quarrel with the three photos of the him the Thompson Citizen has published to date.

The Crown did not force a bail hearing April 5, consenting to Boyce's release late in the day on the Thursday, as the Easter holiday weekend rapidly approached with the cells in the Public Safety Building basement of the RCMP detachment at 122 Selkirk Ave. full of prisoners.

Boyce was initially charged with sexual exploitation March 24 and voluntarily resigned as a teacher with the School District of Mystery Lake March 29. Angele Bartlett, acting superintendent of the School District of Mystery Lake, said April 2, "Certain allegations were brought to the attention of school district personnel. At such time an investigation was conducted and Mr. Boyce was placed on leave pending the outcome. During the course of the investigation Mr. Boyce voluntarily tendered his resignation. Therefore, he is no longer an employee of the School District of Mystery Lake and is not allowed on any School District property. The board of trustees fully supports the course of action taken by school district personnel in regards to this matter."

Boyce, a high profile and always flamboyant drama teacher, who taught at R.D. Parker Collegiate from September 2008 until his resignation March 29, also previously worked for Frontier School Division No. 48 Area 1, where he was principal of the Leaf Rapids Education Centre, and for the Nisichawayasihk Education Authority in Nelson House where he taught in Grade 8 at Otetiskiwin Kiskinwamahtowekamik Elementary School.

As well, Boyce, who was born and raised in Edmonton, taught in Calgary in the mid-to-late 1980s.

Boyce graduated from Bonnie Doon Composite High School in Edmonton in 1973. According to his Facebook page, he graduated from the University of Winnipeg and University of Victoria in 1983.

At R.D. Parker Collegiate, Boyce's contribution with his students in set-building work for the Thompson Playhouse community amateur theatre group, earned him fond accolades, but it also means provincial court Judge Brian Colli, and Katy Sweet, a public prosecutor with Justice Manitoba, two of playhouse's most high profile regular actors, won't be involved in any real life courtroom drama in connection with Boyce's case.

Boyce was also a prominent participant in the annual Old Fashioned Christmas Concert, including playing the Grinch in the inaugural version in 2009.

Among the major plays staged over the last four years by R.D. Parker Trojan Theatre and northernDRAGON productions, formed later by Boyce and some students, were Baraboo: The Last Show on Earth; The Diary of Anne Frank; Rashomon, a murder mystery based on the 1950 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa, which in turn is based on a 1915 short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa; Melody, the story of a young girl living at the North Pacific Cannery, a salmon cannery, who loses her mentor and best friend, a musician and teacher who fostered her talents.

northernDRAGON productions is the latest of a series of theatre companies Boyce has been involved with over the years, starting with an improvisational musical theatre company in Winnipeg and followed by a non-profit co-op theatre company that ran for three years in Prince Rupert, B.C. in the 1990s.

Last May, Boyce orchestrated the first-ever Manitoba Northern Schools One-Act Play Festival, sponsored by Vale's Manitoba Operations and hosted by R.D. Parker Collegiate with drama students from Margaret Barbour Collegiate Institute in The Pas and Gillam School also participating in workshops put on by Mike Peterson, a puppeteer who worked with Jim Henson of Sesame Street fame, actress and producer Rebecca Johnson, and B.C.-based theatre artistic director Robert Garfat.

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