A former student teacher has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a Surrey high school student two years ago.
Michael Edward Herrera was 24 when he was arrested and charged in August 2010 with sexual assault, invitation to sexual touching by a person under the age of 16, and sexual interference (touching someone under 16 for a sexual purpose).
Wearing dark clothing, the fair-haired Herrera, now 26, entered his guilty plea to the sexual assault charge in New Westminster Supreme Court on Monday morning (Oct. 15) on what was to be the first day of a two-week trial.
Crown prosecutor Winston Sayson said the other two charges will likely be stayed after Herrera is sentenced and the case concludes early next year.
The incidents to which Herrera pleaded guilty took place between May 10 and 18, 2010. Surrey RCMP then received a complaint from a girl who told them a student teacher had engaged in an “inappropriate relationship” with her.
Herrera was charged approximately three months later. Sayson said the investigation by the Surrey RCMP’s Child Abuse and Sexual Offence section included forensic DNA, cell phone, computer and medical evidence.
The victim was 15 and in Grade 10 at the time of the incident and is now 18. There is a publication ban on any information that might identify her.
“This belated guilty plea comes as a big relief for the victim and her family,” said Sayson. “The victim showed tremendous courage by coming forward and telling her story to the police.”
Herrera was not an employee of the Surrey School District, but finishing his teacher training, which includes unpaid practical experience in a school classroom.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22.