Former Edmonton junior high music teacher sentenced to 32 months for sexual interference

A former Edmonton junior high school music teacher was sentenced Thursday to 32 months in prison for sexually interfering with a former student who was 15 years old at the time.

Alyssa Tungul admitted that she had an inappropriate sexual relationship with the teen in 2016 after he graduated from junior high.

The identity of the victim, who is now in his 20s, is protected by a court-ordered publication ban. 

Tungul was found guilty of sexual interference and sexual assault in July. Last month the Crown asked the court for a judicial stay on the sexual assault charge, which was granted.

Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Susan Bercov found that Tungul was in a significant position of trust when she allowed herself to get close to her former student outside the classroom.

“A breach of trust increases the gravity of the offence because it is likely to increase the harm to the victim,” Bercov told court Thursday.

“It also increases her degree of responsibility. She has a duty to protect and care for the child.” 

Tungul was suspended with pay in December 2018 after Edmonton police made Edmonton Catholic Schools aware of their investigation.

She resigned from teaching in March 2021 and her lawyer told the court there is “zero chance” she will ever teach again.

“I accept the loss of her career is a significant consequence for her,” Bercov said Thursday.

At a sentencing hearing last month, the Crown asked for a prison sentence of four to five years. 

Bercov disagreed, noting that length of sentence did not take into account Tungul’s remorse and the loss of her teaching career. 

The defence suggested a conditional sentence of 15 to 24 months, but Bercov ruled that was not a fit sentence either, because it didn’t reflect the gravity of an offence that involved a teacher mentoring a troubled Indigenous youth.

The victim did not enter an impact statement at the sentencing hearing, but his mother did. 

“I want you to know your actions changed the direction of [his] life,” the mother said.  “My son was a victim, and a survivor. And he will thrive regardless of your actions.”

Tungul has no prior criminal record and has not spent any time in custody until now. 

After the judge left the courtroom, Tungul’s lawyer and a sheriff were overheard explaining what the process would be as she began serving a federal prison sentence.

Tungul handed over her phone and gloves to family members who blew kisses and told her they loved her before she was led away to cells.

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