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Former Basi-Virk prosecutor hired to defend Langley teacher charged with sexual offences

The female Langley elementary school teacher charged with sexually assaulting a male student is being represented by Janet Winteringham, a high-profile Vancouver lawyer who was on the prosecution team which obtained guilty pleas from two BC Liberal government aides charged with corruption.

Winteringham made a brief appearance in Surrey Provincial Court Monday morning on behalf of her client, 57-year-old Deborah Ralph, to confirm receipt of documents from the Crown prosecutor’s office.

Ralph did not attend court.

The next court date is set for Monday, Jan. 9.

Ralph is charged with one count of sexual assault and one of sexual interference.

The charges relate to incidents that are said to have occurred from December, 1998 to June, 2001.

The alleged victim was a student at James Kennedy Elementary in Walnut Grove where Ralph taught from September, 1987 to June, 2010.

Police said the offences did not take place in the school or a school-related activity.

Ralph was suspended from her teaching post at Langley Fundamental Elementary where she has taught since September, 2010.

Winteringham and senior special prosecutor Bill Berardino were involved in the prosecution of Bob Virk and Aneal Basi, the former BC Liberal government aides who pleaded guilty to breach of trust in connection with the $1-billion sale of B.C. Rail and received conditional sentences.

Controversy erupted after it was disclosed that the plea bargain included an agreement that the duo’s legal bills of $6 million would be paid by the provincial government.

Winteringham was also co-counsel for the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund for women which was an intervenor in the polygamy case that ended with a B.C. Supreme Court decision upholding Canada’s criminal law against the practice of polygamy.

West Coast LEAF argued that the practice of polygamy in British Columbia included many of the “defining criteria for undue exploitation such as an element of authority or control, relationship dependency and an absence of substantive equality.”

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