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This article was published 3/5/2011 (2150 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A 32-year-old teacher who left the province with a Manitoba high school student was arrested in Vancouver Tuesday, ending a national hunt for the pair.
The RCMP said the two left last week after the teenaged girl went missing from a Grand Marais home, and issued a plea for tips on locating the pair.
Police said the man was arrested and charged with sexual exploitation after he was located in Vancouver early Tuesday.
The girl's family said they're happy to hear she's been found but are asking how such an alleged breach of trust occurred.
The Free Press is not naming the teenager or the man charged because those details could identify the victim.
"How long did this go on before this teacher was asked to step down?" asked the girl's aunt, who cannot be named because it would identify her niece.
The girl's aunt said she was deeply disturbed about hearing about her niece's disappearance with her former teacher.
The woman posted a message on the girl's Facebook page begging her to return and said she has questions about what happened to the girl before she left.
"Children who don't have strong family roots are for sure... vulnerable to somebody that's going to come in and be maybe that strong figure," the aunt said. "Because, of course, this is what they do, they prey on the vulnerability of the child."
The man worked as an English teacher at a high school in the Seine River School Division since September 2010, but has since resigned.
From 2009 to 2010, he had a one-year term with a high school in the River East Transcona School Division.
"Prior to him coming into the division, of course we would have done the routine security check. We would have asked for the child-abuse registry check, the criminal record check and we would have checked references, so on that basis, we were satisfied that this would be a good person to hire for the year," said River East spokeswoman Wanda McConnell.
"During his time in our division, we're not aware that there were any concerns raised about his conduct."
John Wiens, dean of the University of Manitoba's faculty of education, said teachers who get involved with students have no excuses and are engaged in an activity that's "completely inappropriate."
"Ignorance or passion may be taken into consideration by the courts but we make no allowance for that," he said.
"We expect teachers to act in a professional manner at all times towards all students. They must not allow themselves to lose their heads."
Wiens said school divisions have options when such relationships happen. Charges of unprofessional conduct could be laid through the Manitoba Teachers' Society, he said, and Manitoba Education could launch an investigation into the suspension or revoke a teaching certificate.
Criminal charges could also be laid, he said, depending on the circumstances.
Carolyn Duhamel, Manitoba School Boards Association executive director, said cases like this one are a "rare instance."
"It's not something that something that happens often and it's certainly not anything that anyone condones or supports," she said.
Duhamel said teachers are "generally cautious about interactions with students outside of school hours, interactions with students on a one-on-one basis where there might not be other people around, (and)... cautious about any kind of physical contact, whether it's a pat on the back or a hug."
"They would be very cautious about all of those things and appropriately so," she said.
Pat Isaak, Manitoba Teachers' Society president, was not available Tuesday for an interview.
"Because this is a personnel case, we can't comment or share any information about it," Isaak said in a prepared statement.
"We can say that the role of the society is to ensure the case is handled fairly and with due process."
-- With files from Aldo Santin