2 Ottawa teachers accused of hiding field trip sex assault
At least 1 student pleaded guilty to 2007 sexual assault in Massachusetts court
Two Ottawa private school teachers could soon face professional discipline for allegations they tried to cover up the sexual assault of a 16-year-old student during a school trip to Boston, Mass., more than five years ago.
An Ontario College of Teachers disciplinary hearing is ongoing in Toronto for Alyssa Novick, a history and geography teacher, and Ian Middleton, a history teacher and rugby coach, who were part of an Ashbury College school trip in November 2007.
The college has accused each teacher of professional misconduct.
The college alleges Novick and Middleton "failed to immediately notify the parents" of the student who was sexually assaulted by his classmates while on the school trip.
It is also alleging the pair, who continue to work at Ashbury, refused to report the sexual assault to police.
Novick is also accused of falsely telling the parents the student did not want to report the incident to police and discouraging the student from reporting the sexual assault to police.
None of the allegations against either teacher have been proven. The hearing, which began in late November, is scheduled to end Feb. 21.
Teachers hope for end to accusations
The family also pushed to have the teachers charged criminally, according to Peter Engelmann, a lawyer for the teachers.
He said the process has been "long and difficult" for the teachers and they hope the disciplinary hearing signals the final set of accusations against them.
"I think it's difficult for any professional to have charges like this hanging over your head for such a long period of time, and they've been anxious to have this resolved in a fair and open way a long time ago," Engelmann said over the phone from Toronto.
"They're doing the best they can to cope and hopefully this will be over in the near future. It's unfortunate it's taken the time it has."
Guilty plea for sexual assault
One student has pleaded guilty to charges of indecent assault and battery in a Massachusetts court connected to the incident.
The sexual assault involved three students pinning the victim to his bed, while another sexually assaulted him and a fifth allegedly videotaped the attack.
The assault also pushed the victim, who was only identified in court documents as J.W.1, and his parents to sue Novick, Middleton, two other teachers, three students, the school's headmaster and the school seeking $150,000 in damages.
They claim the school did not deal with the victim appropriately and responded out of self-interest by not contacting Boston police immediately.
Family, private school continue court battle
That case, first launched in November 2009, is still ongoing. Ashbury, its headmaster and the teachers also filed a statement of defence in May 2010 seeking compensation of all legal costs from the three accused students,
The school has also defended its teachers, saying they handled the incident in a professional manner, co-operating fully with police. Their lawyer refused comment.
None of the family's allegations in regards to the response to the incident have been proven.
All of the students accused were boys and they went to the private school, which is co-ed for Grades 4 to 12. The school was founded in 1891.