Schacter pleads not guilty to several sexual offences

Stephen Joseph Schacter
Stephen Joseph Schacter

Stephen Joseph Schacter, a former teacher at two Toronto-area Jewish day schools, has pleaded not guilty to several sexual offences.

Schacter, 56, is charged with three counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference, two counts of sexual exploitation, and one count of gross indecency.

A publication ban prevents the identification of witnesses.

Court heard on June 11 from a male witness, 47, who testified that he was sexually exploited by Schacter from the ages of 11 to 13, from approximately 1982 to 1985, over the course of 30 to 40 incidents.

Schacter was a supply teacher at Yeshiva Yesodei HaTorah, an all boys Orthodox Jewish school, that the witness attended. Schacter was a substitute teacher for afternoon secular studies classes, court heard.

Schacter was a supply teacher for the witness on one occasion and invited him to his house after school. The witness said it was when the first incident of sexual exploitation occurred.

Schacter lived with his mother on Prince Charles Drive at the time, a 12-minute walk from the witness’s home, court was told.

The witness said he first met Schacter at synagogue and recalled him being “playful” and “humourous,” and that children rushed to sit next to him. Since Schacter was single, families took turns inviting him over for Shabbat, the witness’s home among them, he said.

Many of the sexual acts described by the witness occurred on Shabbat, he said.


 The witness testified that he grew up in a strict household with eastern European parents. They didn’t have a TV or junk food, but at Schacter’s house, where the majority of the alleged sexual incidents occurred, they did. Schacter would buy presents for the witness, such as comic books and a pocket watch.

The witness said for years he blamed himself and took responsibility for what happened. “It took years to realize this was a crime,” he said.

The court heard from two more witnesses on June 12 and 13. They were both seven in Grade Two when Schacter taught them secular studies at Eitz Chaim Schools, an Orthodox Jewish boys school in Toronto, respectively in 1998 and 2001. Schacter was a teacher at the school between 1986 and 2004.

The second witness, 36, described a rewards system in Schacter’s classroom. When a student had good behaviour or good grades, they would receive a sticker. The student with the most stickers at the end of the year received the “VIP” award.” The prize was to spend an afternoon at Schacter’s house, which the witness won.

At Schacter’s house, he insisted the witness sit on his lap, and after refusing a few times, he eventually did. Schacter proceeded to put his hand inside the witness’s underwear, court heard.

The witness testified that it took him a long time to come forward because he feared he would be “shunned” and “exiled” from the Orthodox community.

The third witness, 24, said when Schacter was his teacher, he called students to his desk individually to return tests and assignments. When the witness did so, Schacter would “stroke” his back under his shirt and sometimes “rub” his rear inside his underwear, court was told.

In the preliminary hearing, the witness stated that Schacter touched him thousands of times. In trial, he retracted this claim and modified it to dozens of times.

Schacter was also an office administrator, student supervisor and supply teacher at United Synagogue Day School (now Robbins Hebrew Academy) from 2004 to 2006.

He was a primary teacher’s assistant in grades 1 and 2 at Pleasant Avenue Public School in 2004 and was a private tutor from 2009 until 2011.

His trial will continue on June 19.