News / Halifax

Former Nova Scotia teacher wins delay in sentencing on sex charges

Sarah Allt Harnish, a former teacher at a Halifax-area junior high school, had her sentencing put over until September pending an appeal of a similar case.

Sarah Allt Harnish, who goes by her maiden name Allt, heads from provincial court in Halifax on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Allt, a former teacher at a Halifax-area junior high school, pleaded guilty to invitation to sexual touching. Her sentencing has been put over until September pending an appeal of a similar case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Sarah Allt Harnish, who goes by her maiden name Allt, heads from provincial court in Halifax on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Allt, a former teacher at a Halifax-area junior high school, pleaded guilty to invitation to sexual touching. Her sentencing has been put over until September pending an appeal of a similar case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — A former Halifax-area junior high teacher has won a delay in her sentencing on a sex charge, as she undergoes a sexual deviancy assessment and awaits the outcome of another teacher's appeal in a similar case.

Sarah Allt Harnish, who goes by her maiden name Allt, was a teacher at Five Bridges Junior High in Hubley, N.S., when she was charged with invitation to sexual touching in 2016.

Allt was due to be sentenced Tuesday, but her lawyer Joel Pink asked that the case be adjourned until after the province's Appeal Court hears the case of former teacher Carolyn Amy Hood of Stellarton, N.S., in September.

Hood was found guilty last April of sexually abusing a teenage male student and sending sexually explicit texts to another.

The Crown has appealed Hood's 15-month house arrest sentence on charges of sexual interference, sexual exploitation and two counts of luring minors over the Internet for a sexual purpose.

Pink said the trial judge in that case ruled the mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail was too harsh, and the appeal court's ruling may guide Judge Gregory Lenehan's sentencing decision in the Allt matter.

"One of the grounds for appeal deals with a ruling ... that the section dealing with minimum sentences is unconstitutional," said Pink outside of Halifax provincial court.

"So if that is a case, the court of appeal will rule on that and that will give some guidance to Judge Lenehan as to whether or not he has to impose a minimum sentence."

Crown lawyer Cory Roberts told the court that delaying the sentencing past September was "of some concern to the Crown."

"But I do understand your honour's desire to probably hear that decision from the court of appeal, where we are dealing with a constitutional issue here," said Roberts.

Lenehan also ordered a sexual deviancy assessment, which is expected to take about eight weeks.

Allt, who pleaded guilty, has been ordered not to have contact with the alleged victim or people under the age of 16 and to stay away from schools, parks, playgrounds or any place known to be frequented by children.

She is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 29 for a status update on the Hood case and to set new dates for Allt's sentencing. Hood's appeal will be heard on Sept. 26.

Hood's bipolar disorder was a factor in determining her sentence late last year, which includes 24 months of probation and automatic inclusion on the national sex offenders registry.

She was also ordered not to attend any place frequented by children for the next 10 years unless accompanied by an adult.

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