A Nanaimo music teacher has been found not guilty of sexual interference of a person under 16, instead pleading guilty to common assault in a case court officials said hinged on perceptions and cultural customs.
Flavio Livio Cianflone, 68, pleaded to the lesser charge in B.C. provincial court in Nanaimo, April 29, and was sentenced to a conditional discharge and one-year’s probation by Judge Paul Dohm. Cianflone has no prior criminal record and will not have one if he meets his probationary terms.
Dohm said an agreed statement of facts showed that in between January 2018 and June 2019, Cianflone touched one of his students — a teenage girl whose identity is protected by a publication ban — on her leg and other parts of her body, hugged her, and kissed her on the cheek.
The student did not expressly say she didn’t consent, but at the same time, Cianflone didn’t take any steps to ensure she was comfortable, which she clearly was not, said Dohm.
In an impact statement submitted by the victim, the student said she’s been negatively impacted and didn’t appreciate Cianflone’s conduct. The teacher should have taken extra steps to ensure she was OK with him touching her in such a manner, Dohm said.
Defence lawyer Peter Hertzberg said cultural customs for his client — and dual Canadian-Italian citizen — include physical affection, including hugging and kissing on the cheek, something Cianflone referenced when he addressed the court.
“It’s a case about perceptions, as you can see from the agreed statement of facts,” said Crown counsel Brett Webber. “Keeping in mind the age difference of the victim to the accused and the concern of the Crown also flows from the fact that the accused was involved in governance of music teachers … back in Manitoba and, quite frankly, should’ve known better than to put himself and [the student] in those circumstances that you see.”
Prior to Dohm’s judgment, Webber said he wasn’t able to agree with a conditional discharge, as it causes the Crown some problem based on deterrence and denunciation. Cianflone is not restricted by an association or teachers’ governing group in this jurisdiction and Crown didn’t want his continued ability to interact with young people, said Webber, who sought a one-year suspended sentence.
Under the terms of probation, Cianflone will be restricted from being in contact with children under the age of 16, unless an adult is present, and being in contact with the victim.
Dohm, Webber, Hertzberg and Cianflone appeared via conference call.