Teacher who sexually assaulted 6-year-old banned from profession in B.C. for 25 years

·3 min read
An empty classroom is pictured in a file photo. Alex Plehanov hasn't had a teaching certificate since 2014, when he lost his licence over allegations of inappropriately touching elementary students.  (Tobias Arhelger/Shutterstock - image credit)
An empty classroom is pictured in a file photo. Alex Plehanov hasn't had a teaching certificate since 2014, when he lost his licence over allegations of inappropriately touching elementary students. (Tobias Arhelger/Shutterstock - image credit)

A former substitute teacher in Coquitlam, B.C., has been banned from teaching for 25 years after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a friend's six-year-old daughter.

The decision means Aleksandr (Alex) Plehanov, who is in his late 40s, will effectively not be allowed to teach in the province for the rest of his working life, since he will be in his 70s by the time the ban expires.

"Those who sexually assault children pose a clear danger to other children. No child, teacher, parent, or member of the general public, would feel that our school system is safe [if] such people were permitted to have any kind of teaching certificate," read a sharp decision from the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch.

"The message must be: You will never teach again."

Convicted in 2017

Plehanov was sentenced to six months in jail after being found guilty of sexually assaulting the girl in Surrey, B.C., in 2017.

During a trial in 2016, court heard Plehanov was with his friend and extended family on Easter Sunday when the girl tripped and fell as she was walking backward. The judgment said Plehanov caught her, then sexually assaulted her just outside her grandparents' home.

The defence argued Plehanov had only touched the girl to stop her fall, but Justice Murray Block agreed with the Crown and found what happened wasn't an accident.

The assault happened less than six months after Plehanov was acquitted of similar charges related to inappropriate touching of elementary school students while he was a teacher on call in the Coquitlam area.

Plehanov's response

Plehanov hasn't had a teaching certificate since 2014, when he lost his licence over the first inappropriate touching allegations made against him in 2010.

He hasn't reapplied for certification since, but the branch held hearings in 2020 to decide whether he should be officially banned from trying again in wake of the criminal conviction.

Plehanov did not file a response to the proceedings, the branch said, but sent an email to a lawyer for the attorney general's office saying he had been "falsely accused."

"Status of my teacher certification is not my main concern right now," he wrote in February 2020.

The panel ultimately found Plehanov's crime was "at the far end of the spectrum of professional misconduct" and justified a 25-year teaching ban.

"It is clear from the prior history of misconduct that [Plehanov] has not been deterred by previous disciplinary measures," the decision read.

"There is no other penalty that the disciplinary process under the Teachers Act can impose that will protect children from such behaviour in our school system."

In some cases, the teachers' panel can reduce the penalties it imposes if they find a teacher has already been punished for their behaviour in another way.

The panel said that was not the case for Plehanov.

"The Respondent has lost his job and a serious criminal conviction and sentence (which is still in effect) will have had some effect on him."

"These consequences are directly the inevitable and natural result of his own behaviour. To reduce a penalty in these circumstances is like the old story of the man who kills his parents and then asks the court to have mercy on him, as he is an orphan."

Plehanov's email said he planned to appeal his criminal conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada. His appeal in B.C. was dismissed in 2019.

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