Teacher-student affair produces baby boy

Five years after their teacher-student affair began, Heather Ingram and Dusty Dickeson are parents of a two-month-old boy named Phoenix and their story is being featured on the Oprah Winfrey TV show.

Ingram said she taped the interview with Oprah at her home in Halfmoon Bay Jan. 20, and the show will air sometime in February. She said she agreed to do the show because it was "not sensationalist."

"The show is focused on mistakes that have changed your life," said Ingram. "I betrayed my profession. I would say that's a pretty big mistake."

Another guest on the show is a woman who made the mistake of using a cell phone in traffic, causing an accident which left her permanently disabled.

A film crew for the Oprah show was in Sechelt Jan. 16, filming at Chatelech Secondary School where Dickeson and Ingram met in 1990. But Ingram said the filming at the school was done without her knowledge or approval, and she has since obtained a promise that the Oprah show will not include any of the footage of the school, students or teachers.

Dickeson was 17 years old when he seduced Ingram, his 29-year-old accounting teacher. Ingram paid a heavy price after the affair became public: she was convicted of sexual exploitation, separated from her common-law husband and lost her teaching certification. She lived with Dickeson for about three years, then separated from him after catching him with a 15-year-old girl. Last year Ingram published a tell-all book about the affair, entitled Risking it All: My Student, My Lover, My Story.

Dickeson dropped out of high school, worked intermittently on a fishing boat and at a sawmill and acquired a varied criminal record. In 2000 he was convicted of sexual interference for touching a girl under the age of 14 and was granted a conditional discharge. In 2002, he spent seven days in jail after a conviction for driving while prohibited. In 2003, he spent a day in jail for assault causing bodily harm.

Last May, Dickeson applied to the court to lift the legal ban on publishing his name. That publication ban was intended to protect his identity since he was, legally, the under-age victim of a sex crime. But Dickeson argued that he needed no such protection and he wanted to use the publicity surrounding the Ingram case to promote his debut rap CD, Teacher's Scandal, which included crude boasts about his seduction of Ingram. There was a flurry of national media attention for Dickeson at that time, and he told reporters he and Ingram were "just friends." But in fact, she was already pregnant with his child.

Dickeson was in court again Nov. 10, the week after Phoenix was born, charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. He was arrested again in December for allegedly firing a sawed-off shotgun at two men who were threatening him outside the Sechelt rooming house where he was living. Both those cases are awaiting trial. In the meantime, Dickeson is free on bail.

Ingram said sales of her book are "OK but not great," and she is not currently pursuing any movie deals or other promotions."I'm on maternity leave and focused on raising the baby," she said.

Ingram said baby Phoenix is briefly mentioned in the Oprah interview but is not the focus of the show. She said Dickeson is "being as good a father as he can be," but she declined to discuss their family life further.

"It's personal. It's between the two of us, and that's how I'd like to leave it," she said.

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