John Hoffer, a teacher from Alberta’s Waterton Hutterite Colony won’t be sent to prison despite pleading guilty to seven counts of assault with weapons.
Hoffer, who teaches German, admitted to beating his pupils and other children in the community with straps, branches, and a lighter.
As noted by the CBC, the courtroom was filled with Hutterite ministers, who expressed the sadness faced by their community.
Hoffer pleaded guilty before facing trial, which was supposed to take place this week. Judge Derek Redmen gave him a two-year conditional sentence order.
Educational institutions are meant to be safe environments for students. Teachers are held to a high standard because they are responsible for safeguarding the trust vested in them by parents.
Hoffer would make his students kneel on hard tiles, and at times, demand that some bend over so he could whip them for all the classmates to see.
Andrew Iovinelli, the defence lawyer, said that his client never wanted to hurt the children, even though one girl claimed the pain she endured was “often 10 out of 10.”
The first Hutterites settled to Alberta in the early 20th century. According to RETROactive, a website dedicated to exploring Albertan history, what distinguishes the Hutterites from Amish is their emphasis on communal living.
They are Christian Anabaptists who originate from the Tyrol region and stem from the Reformation period.
Some of their beliefs include pacifism, a refusal to swearing oaths, and the separation of Church and State.