School head didn't alert police to sex assault: affidavit
Ottawa school headmaster received legal advice too late, victim's father says in affidavit
The headmaster of an Ottawa private school says he should have alerted police immediately after the 2007 sexual assault of a 16-year-old student on a school trip to Boston, according to the victim’s father.
The statement from Ashbury College headmaster Tam Matthews was included in the father’s sworn affidavit from February 2012. It is part of a lawsuit first filed more than three years ago by the victim's family, which is suing Matthews, teachers Alyssa Novick and Ian Middleton, two other teachers, three students and the school seeking $150,000 in damages.
The family has claimed the school did not deal with the victim appropriately and responded out of self-interest by not contacting Boston police immediately.
None of the family's allegations in regards to the response to the incident have been proven. The defendants have also denied the allegations.
The affidavit, which the defence chose not to cross-examine, alleged Matthews told the court he should have immediately reported the sexual assault to Boston police, he should not have told his teachers to fly two of the accused back to Ottawa and he should not have told the teachers to send evidence back to Ottawa.
The affidavit also alleged Matthews, who was in Ottawa directing his teachers in Boston, only received legal advice from Ashbury's lawyer more than 24 hours after the incident.
2 accused, evidence wrongly flown back to Ottawa, affidavit alleges
One student has pleaded guilty in a Massachusetts court to charges of indecent assault and battery connected to the November 2007 incident. It involved three students pinning the victim to his bed, while another sexually assaulted him and a fifth videotaped the attack.
Two of the boys were flown back to Ottawa the day after the sexual assault along with two pieces of evidence — a laptop and camera — which was ordered by Matthews, according to a police report also included as part of the affidavit.
All of the students accused were boys and they went to the private school, which is co-ed for Grades 4 to 12.
Novick’s summary of the incident, also submitted in court and mentioned in the affidavit, said the victim’s family was contacted less than 12 hours after the victim reported the incident.
Victim's family first to alert police, affidavit says
The police report mentioned in the affidavit also revealed an Ottawa police sergeant was the first to contact Boston police several hours after the incident, which came after the victim's family alerted Ottawa police to the incident.
Ashbury College continues to defend its teachers saying they were professional and co-operated fully with police. Their lawyer refused comment but the school chairman said Tuesday he is confident in how his teachers responded.
"They followed, very carefully, the policies and procedures the school sets out for its trips…we found in that very difficult situation the teachers handled themselves well," said Chris Teron.
"They most certainly continue to teach at Ashbury, they continue to lead trips and I think continue to have the respect of the students and staff at the school."
Teachers' hearing ends Feb. 21
The Ontario College of Teachers is currently charging Novick and Middleton, history teachers at Ashbury College who were in Boston with the students, with professional misconduct.
The college alleges the two teachers "failed to immediately notify the parents" of the student. It is also alleging the two teachers 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.