The retired teacher at the centre of serious allegations in La Ronge is sharing her side of the story.
Martina Cain took the stand at a professional misconduct disciplinary hearing Wednesday morning. The former high school teacher and principal faces four allegations by a former student, which stem from events in the mid-to-late 1980s.
Cain is accused of being in a hot tub naked with another woman and the student, making the student steal a food tray from an A&W restaurant, sleeping in the same bed as the student and holding basketball practices where she forced players to strip.
After the former student and several other witnesses testified Tuesday, it was Cain’s turn to recollect how she interpreted the events to have transpired.
Many of those witnesses described having to shed clothing at certain basketball practices if they missed a shot from the free-throw line. Some students claimed they were forced to remove shorts and even a bra in one case.
Cain said she only ever told players to remove shoes and socks if they missed a shot, nothing more. If they made a shot, they’d put the articles back on. She thought it would be a fun drill and said she had no intention of causing kids to be fearful, adding it was “upsetting” to learn some students felt angry, embarrassed and uncomfortable at having to take clothes off. She said if it did occur, it was not her directive and she was never present, explaining that some players would continue to shoot hoops after the official practice had ended.
The drill was an offshoot of what she described as a hazing or initiation ritual when she herself played for the University of Regina Cougars women’s basketball team, where Cain said rookies had to strip if they missed a shot.
As her testimony continued, she denied having ever been in a hot tub alone and naked with anyone else. However, Cain said she can’t confirm nor deny having been in a hot tub with someone else and the student, saying she had no recollection of it but indicated it may have happened.
As for the allegation of forcing the student to take a food tray, she denied that as well.
“I have never asked a student to steal anything,” Cain testified.
However, she did not deny sleeping in the same bed as the student on what she remembered as about four occasions, not the 18 times the student had estimated.
“No where near that,” stated Cain.
The student’s mother approached Cain and asked if her daughter could stay with the teacher, not the other way around Cain told the hearing. But even though they slept in the same bed, Cain said they never touched inappropriately and there was no alcohol or sex involved. Roger Lepage, the lawyer representing the professional conduct committee, asked if she had ever told her friends or the student’s family about the sleeping arrangements. Cain admitted she did not.
Lepage also questioned her on whether she thought these sleepovers were acceptable.
“I didn’t have any thoughts it was inappropriate,” she said, adding the thought never entered her mind.
Cain explained how policies and practices have changed since that time 30 years ago, and she didn’t think of telling the student’s parents there was only one bed and nowhere else to sleep besides the floor.
“If you look back, would I have changed it? Yes.”
“Would I do it again? No.”
Lawyers made their closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, along with penalty submissions, depending on what the six-member disciplinary committee finds.
A decision is not expected immediately.