Canadian Children's Rights Council
Conseil canadien des droits des enfants
Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

"Mistake for Love"
Former High School Teacher Regrets Affair With Her One-Time Student

Heather Ingram says she now regrets having an affair with her former student.

V A N C O U V E R, British Columbia, Sept. 30, 2004 -- Until Heather Ingram met Dusty Dickeson, she never considered risking her successful teaching career for the attention of a boy, even if he embodied everything she desired during her own high school days.

I can remember the first time I saw Dusty. I actually did a double-take. I went, 'Oh! He's beautiful.' He was just stunning," Ingram said on ABC News' Good Morning America.

He was and probably still is the person that I would have been attracted to in high school who would not have known my name," she said.

Five years ago, Ingram, now 35, was a well-respected, award-winning high school teacher in a town outside Vancouver, British Columbia. But her admiration for one of her students went too far.

Ingram's sexual affair began with Dickeson an 11th-grader in her accounting class when he was 17, just five months shy of becoming a legal adult.

As Ingram chronicles in her book, Risking It All: My Student, My Lover, My Story, she was flattered when Dickeson, an attractive and popular student, showed her atttention.

The sexual relationship began after Ingram invited Dickeson and some of his peers over to watch a video at her home one night. When Dickeson's friends left, he stayed on and the two made love for the first time.

After that night, Ingram promised herself that it wouldn't happen again, but when Dickeson called the next day, she agreed to meet him.

After 10 months, Ingram was forced to confess the affair to the school principal after another teacher threatened to expose her.

Ingram was fired from her teaching position and charged with exploiting a minor. Dickeson told authorities that the affair was consensual, but Ingram was sentenced to 10 months under house arrest.

After Ingram's secret was exposed, she and Dickeson moved in together and he quit school. The couple eventually had a son together, who is now 10 months old. But in the end, the relationship didn't survive. Ingram says the age difference proved to be too much.

"Do I feel that I exploited Dusty, which is really what I was convicted of? No. I don't feel like I did that. And he doesn't either. What I feel like I did was make a huge mistake for love."

Ingram says she now sees why she should have fought her feelings, instead of acting on them. But the former teacher says she has to forgive herself to take care of their son.

I think we damaged each other in a lot of ways," Ingram said. "I think mostly I damaged myself by making, what in retrospect, was such a poor decision."