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Psychiatrist testifies at Amy Hood trial


A psychiatrist testifying at the trial of a former teacher facing sex-related charges involving minors focused on her mental state.

Dr. Lisa Ramshaw, a psychiatrist specializing in criminal psychiatry, testified Tuesday in Pictou Provincial Court at the trial of Carolyn Amy Hood, 40, of Riverton. She said she believes Hood is not criminally responsible because her mental state didn’t allow her to know her acts were morally wrong.

Hood is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, two counts of luring minors over the Internet for sexual purposes and two counts of sexual exploitation of a young person. These charges are in relation to alleged incidents involving minors from June to September 2013. She was teaching at Thorburn Consolidated School at the time.

Hood admitted to four of the six charges, which include two counts of luring, one count of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual interference. The trial is focusing on the whether Hood was criminally responsible at the time based on her mental health.

Ramshaw supported reports from other psychiatrists who assessed Hood with bipolar type one disorder causing manic episodes in the spring of 2013 around the time she was sexually texting former students.

She said based on interviews with Hood, her family and information from the school board and police, she was doubtful Hood had “significant overall insight” into the inappropriateness of the texting or sex-related acts. 

Crown attorney Bill Gorman focused a large portion of his cross examination on text messages Hood sent to young males before and after she began treatment for bipolar disorder in November 2013. The messages exchanged between Hood and a former student, who was 15, started out friendly but turned sexual. In April 2013, she performed oral sex on him after he asked her for a drive home from school.

She was placed on leave in October 2013 after the board did its own investigation. Ramshaw said Hood was dismissive in the school board interview and laughed when the text messages or allegations were brought up by board staff. She said this behaviour indicates Hood probably wasn’t understanding the wrongfulness because of her manic state.

However, the Crown pointed out that after Hood sent each text to any of the young males, before and after she started receiving treatment for bipolar disorder, she told them to DELETE the texts so no one would know about their relationships.  

Ramshaw said it was evident that Hood didn’t want others to know about her sexual experience with the 15-year-old or texting with other men. But she told Ramshaw she wanted the messages deleted because it was a private matter that involved intimate experiences.  

In some text messages, Hood referred to feeling on edge because she was afraid the police would be at her door or that her husband would find out. Ramshaw said this indicates Hood knew what she was doing was legally wrong, but not necessarily morally.

It was also brought up in testimony that Hood said she felt 18 years old again when she was texting the boys and it felt good to be part of their circle but the doctor said Hood was aware she was a mother and a wife and not a teenager.

She also expressed a specific sexual interest in young boys rather than men. Hood told a psychiatrist that an adult man she knew had shown interest in her but she wasn’t interested in men.

The Crown indicated this behaviour proved she was being selective and making a choice about who she wanted to be with.    

“When I asked her why she focused on young males, she responded by saying, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know if it was just because they were there.  I was turned on by the texting as much as I knew I was a mother and married. I was acting like a teenager,’” said Ramshaw.

Gorman pointed out that Ramshaw didn’t have all of the 300-plus text messages on hand when she developed her report for the defence, to which she agreed this information would have been useful.

However, under rebuttal, Ramshaw said she would not change her opinion that Hood was not criminally responsible for her actions based on her lack of moral judgment.

The trial continues today in Pictou provincial court. 

Dr. Lisa Ramshaw, a psychiatrist specializing in criminal psychiatry, testified Tuesday in Pictou Provincial Court at the trial of Carolyn Amy Hood, 40, of Riverton. She said she believes Hood is not criminally responsible because her mental state didn’t allow her to know her acts were morally wrong.

Hood is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, two counts of luring minors over the Internet for sexual purposes and two counts of sexual exploitation of a young person. These charges are in relation to alleged incidents involving minors from June to September 2013. She was teaching at Thorburn Consolidated School at the time.

Hood admitted to four of the six charges, which include two counts of luring, one count of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual interference. The trial is focusing on the whether Hood was criminally responsible at the time based on her mental health.

Ramshaw supported reports from other psychiatrists who assessed Hood with bipolar type one disorder causing manic episodes in the spring of 2013 around the time she was sexually texting former students.

She said based on interviews with Hood, her family and information from the school board and police, she was doubtful Hood had “significant overall insight” into the inappropriateness of the texting or sex-related acts. 

Crown attorney Bill Gorman focused a large portion of his cross examination on text messages Hood sent to young males before and after she began treatment for bipolar disorder in November 2013. The messages exchanged between Hood and a former student, who was 15, started out friendly but turned sexual. In April 2013, she performed oral sex on him after he asked her for a drive home from school.

She was placed on leave in October 2013 after the board did its own investigation. Ramshaw said Hood was dismissive in the school board interview and laughed when the text messages or allegations were brought up by board staff. She said this behaviour indicates Hood probably wasn’t understanding the wrongfulness because of her manic state.

However, the Crown pointed out that after Hood sent each text to any of the young males, before and after she started receiving treatment for bipolar disorder, she told them to DELETE the texts so no one would know about their relationships.  

Ramshaw said it was evident that Hood didn’t want others to know about her sexual experience with the 15-year-old or texting with other men. But she told Ramshaw she wanted the messages deleted because it was a private matter that involved intimate experiences.  

In some text messages, Hood referred to feeling on edge because she was afraid the police would be at her door or that her husband would find out. Ramshaw said this indicates Hood knew what she was doing was legally wrong, but not necessarily morally.

It was also brought up in testimony that Hood said she felt 18 years old again when she was texting the boys and it felt good to be part of their circle but the doctor said Hood was aware she was a mother and a wife and not a teenager.

She also expressed a specific sexual interest in young boys rather than men. Hood told a psychiatrist that an adult man she knew had shown interest in her but she wasn’t interested in men.

The Crown indicated this behaviour proved she was being selective and making a choice about who she wanted to be with.    

“When I asked her why she focused on young males, she responded by saying, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know if it was just because they were there.  I was turned on by the texting as much as I knew I was a mother and married. I was acting like a teenager,’” said Ramshaw.

Gorman pointed out that Ramshaw didn’t have all of the 300-plus text messages on hand when she developed her report for the defence, to which she agreed this information would have been useful.

However, under rebuttal, Ramshaw said she would not change her opinion that Hood was not criminally responsible for her actions based on her lack of moral judgment.

The trial continues today in Pictou provincial court. 

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