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Krysta Grimes declines trial by jury, as defence insists rumours prompted St. John's teacher's arrest

Krysta Grimes declined Wednesday to be tried by a jury at Supreme Court in St. John's. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
Krysta Grimes declined Wednesday to be tried by a jury at Supreme Court in St. John's. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
Malone Mullin/CBC
Malone Mullin/CBC

A St. John's high school teacher elected Wednesday to forgo a jury trial, 3½ years after her arrest on sexual exploitation charges.

Krysta Grimes is facing allegations that she had sexual contact with a student at the high school where she worked. She was charged in 2019, pleading guilty and initially asking for a trial by jury.

On Wednesday morning, however, she decided to be tried by a judge alone.

Grimes, now in her mid-30s, sat expressionless in the Supreme Court dock as her lawyer proceeded to grill a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary investigator about a criminal probe into Grimes's alleged misconduct.

It all started with an anonymous email to the school board, describing rumours that Grimes had been sleeping with students.

That letter called her a "pedophile" who had "had sex with boys," prompting the police investigation, the RNC witness told the court.

Rosellen Sullivan, the attorney Grimes hired last year after firing school board-appointed Ian Patey, repeatedly needled the witness about apparent gaps in the RNC's investigation, attempting to poke multiple holes in their evidence.

The witness said the complainant, a boy who said he had sexual contact with Grimes, had Grimes's cellphone number, and said the two would exchange Snapchat messages and texts.

But the witness acknowledged police didn't cross-reference Grimes's cellphone for some of those allegations, which include knowledge of an intimate photo of the teacher.

Sullivan pointed out the boy in question admitted he had access to Grimes's phone during school hours, and asked if the student could have looked at Grimes's photos without her knowledge.

"Possibly," the investigator replied.

The boy also couldn't say exactly when the alleged sexual contact happened during police interviews, Sullivan noted, asking the investigator if that struck them as odd.

"Now looking back, I can say that, yes," the investigator replied.

Grimes's defence spent much of Wednesday morning suggesting the substitute teacher was the victim of long-standing, widespread rumours, pointing out that students had gone so far as to nickname her "Booty Grimes." At one point, Sullivan noted, a student posted a photo of Grimes on Instagram with the caption "#MeToo," which he later told investigators was a joke based on the rumours that she slept with students.

"There is a pattern here of these rumours going on for six years," Sullivan said. "At any point did you sit back … and [did it] occur to you that was all this was?"

"There was a possibility," the witness said. "We were very aware of the extent of the rumours."

Witness testimony is scheduled to continue Thursday.

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