Student Cindy Webster (Shannon Fill) confides in new social worker Sarah Collins (Stepfanie Kramer) that Dr. Powell (as everyone reverentially refers to him) has pressured her into providing sexual favors out of “gratitude” for everything that he’s done for her (changed some grades) and her mom (secured a teacher’s aide position). Cindy caves; Sarah pursues a trail of girls whom Dr. Powell has pressured into having sex over the years.
Script does a good job focusing on abuse of power, exposing the pain that the victims of sexual harassment endure, especially the self-blame and loss of self-esteem.
Story also exposes problems that victims face in bringing perpetrators to justice, as Sarah, Frank and Cindy are put through bureaucratic and emotional wringers.
Kudos to the characterizations of the abused girls: They are not middle-class , stable kids. They are from broken homes — one even works in a strip club — further illustrating that sexual abuse is not about what a woman wears or how she acts.
Where the telepic fails is the cardboard character of Dr. Powell, menacingly played by Gross as just a plain bad guy. We’re shown right off that he’s guilty of the crimes of which he’s accused — manipulating teachers and disciplining students rather too strictly.
Gross can’t and doesn’t do much with the flat role he’s been given, though other cast members do their best with pedestrian supporting roles.
The likable Kramer is convincing as the crusading social worker.
Director Chuck Bowman keeps the pace snappy and the story rolling and interesting. Good use is made of the lovely British Columbia locations and tech credits are pro.