A former teacher and local businessman who admitted to raping a student in the 70s was sentenced to five years in prison last Friday.
Warren Fertig, 73, pleaded guilty to one count of rape in Red Deer court last year.
The former teacher and founder of Allan Dale Trailers & RVs, was initially charged in September 2011 with one count of rape, one count of sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 14 and one count of sexual intercourse with a female between the age of 14 and 16. These charges stem from May 2010 when Red Deer RCMP initiated an investigation into a historic sexual assault after receiving a complaint.
Fertig, who was a teacher at River Glen School at the time of the crime, had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student between 1975 and 1977. The female student was 12-years-old when the relations started and 15 when it ended. Fertig was aged 35 when the offenses began and was 37 when they ended.
Crown Prosecutor Jason Snider had asked that a sentence between two to four years to be served in a penitentiary be handed down, while defense lawyer Alain Hepner asked for a conditional sentence.
Court heard in an agreed statement of facts, details of a sting operation that took place in August 2011 after the victim, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, filed a complaint with police.
The victim acted as an agent with police and went to Fertig’s business, Allan Dale Trailers. After their first meeting at the business, they agreed to meet for lunch and exchanged cell phone numbers.
During their lunch meeting the following day, court heard that Fertig told the victim he was head over heels for her and also discussed their previous sexual encounters.
Fertig initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea after a preliminary inquiry took place. He has stated his actions were an error in judgment.
“He (Fertig) has put himself at a risk of a sentence of up to life imprisonment. This is a serious sexual assault upon a child over a period of time. You were caught in a sting operation and almost reveled with the victim about your early sexual acts,” said Judge Norman Mackie. “This was a morally despicable interaction. The bottom line is that this activity was not an error in judgment it was several criminal offenses. It was the continuum of self-indulgence over a three-year period.
“You breached trust not only to the victim but to your profession of teaching. You attempted to steal the life of a woman who has turned out to be more powerful than you.”
In addition, dozens of letters of support were also received and given to the court from Fertig’s family and other community members.
“It makes one wonder how it could all come to this,” said Mackie. “The innocent outpouring stems from something you’ve hidden from them. After being caught by the woman’s strength and the smarts of the police, you have been exposed.”
The victim said she felt justice had been done after Friday’s verdict was handed down.
“I’m satisfied with the sentence. I think it’s fair. It’s important that people are penalized for their actions and it’s a crime against a child and it severely affects their life and it has to stop,” she said. “The sentencing is definitely appropriate for what has happened. The power is not with him anymore, I am not afraid. I do feel better about myself. I had to take this risk to make life worth living. It is done and I’m at a better place and now I can heal.”
In earlier court proceedings, the victim read a statement to the court.
“My childhood was stripped from me. My childhood was stolen. I was naive and vulnerable,” she said, adding she was not only a student of Fertig’s when the offences occurred, but she also babysat for his family during that time as well. “He raped me for three long years.”
She added Fertig would drive her to either a farmer’s field or park in an alley where he would sexually assault her. “I felt tainted and dirty. He would remind me not to tell anyone and would repeatedly ask me if I told anyone,” she said. “I never said anything. I always tried to repress my memories.”
She added she decided to come forward with the allegations in recent years after her mother passed away.
“After my mother passed away I knew it was time to deal with this. I had to trust I was doing the right thing and that justice would prevail,” she said. “This has been a hugely stressful ordeal.”