Gym teacher acquitted of sexual assault

Former gym teacher Henri Fournier was acquitted Thursday on charges he had sexually assaulted and exploited elementary school students in Châteauguay, Que.

Former gym teacher Henri Fournier was acquitted Thursday on charges he had sexually assaulted and exploited elementary school students.

Fournier lost his job at the Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption school in Châteauguay, Que., after his arrest in February 2008 on charges he had assaulted 17 girls.

Fournier’s family and friends were present at the Valleyfield courthouse as the verdict was read.

The judge concluded Fournier's version of events was credible — that there were hugs in the presence of others but no touching that provided any sexual gratification.

Fournier said the most difficult part of his experience was the week he spent behind bars.

Now, Fournier said he has to work to rebuild his reputation.

"You just have one. It took me 31 years … to get it … and it took like about a weekend to destroy it."

Fournier’s brother Roger said the case has also been tough on his family.

"My mom is not that young. and she took it hard."

Henri Fournier said he is considering a return to teaching if the school board will take him back.

But he said he is not sure he will ever feel comfortable back at the school.