Ottawa

Allegations against Perth teacher date back to 2005

When OPP first announced criminal charges against high school teacher Jeff Peters in 2019, another former student went to police. But because her sexual history with Peters had started after she turned 18, no charges were ever laid in her case.

'I felt like I was his secret girlfriend,' former student says of Jeff Peters

Jeff Peters, former teacher in Perth Ont., was convicted of sex crimes against his students. (Submitted by Emily Dickinson )

Since first hearing that her former teacher Jeff Peters had been arrested in 2019, an Ottawa woman says she's replayed what happened years ago between the two of them over and over in her mind. 

"I felt like I was his secret girlfriend," said Elizabeth, formerly of Perth, Ont. "He always talked about our amazing chemistry."

CBC has agreed to let Elizabeth use a pseudonym to protect her identity. 

She said she now knows it wasn't a real "relationship," and recognizes Peters was grooming her in 2005 and 2006, her final years of high school, for what was to come.

Peters was recently convicted of sex crimes against two other former students who attended St. John Catholic High School in Perth, southwest of Ottawa, between 2013 and 2016. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on April 29. 

In 2019, when Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) first announced charges against Peters, Elizabeth, by then in her 30s, went to police and told them what had happened. 

She made a statement and was a witness, but because her sexual history with Peters had begun after she turned 18 and had graduated from high school, she was "on the outside" of the recent criminal proceedings, Elizabeth told CBC. 

No charges were laid in her case.

On April 29, a judge at the Perth, Ont., courthouse convicted Peters of sex crimes against two former students. (Julie Ireton/CBC)

Sexual crimes 

The agreed statement of fact from Peters's criminal convictions, which was read into the record at the Perth courthouse and obtained by CBC, includes details about two victims whose names remain under a publication ban.

Both victims went to St. John, where they were students of Peters. 

One of the students said her interaction with Peters started with inappropriate comments and hugs. It then progressed to kissing, sexual touching then sexual intercourse several times when she was in Grade 12 in 2016. 

"It was usually a Thursday he would play golf…. They would meet up, kiss, he would turn her around and have sex," read the court statement. "She sobbed the whole way home."

The second victim told police she thought Peters was her "boyfriend" and she "truly believed it was just her this happened to."

"They would share sexual messages via email at school…. When she was 17, he had her stay after class, he pulled her shirt down and kissed her neck. They kissed," the court heard.

Peters taught history and religion, and coached sports teams for several years at St. John Catholic High School in Perth, Ont. (Julie Ireton/CBC)

A decade prior

Elizabeth said her experience with Peters predated the two cases at the centre of the former teacher's convictions by a decade. 

Soon after Elizabeth's graduation from St. John Catholic High School in 2006, she said Peters initiated "off-and-on" sexual involvement that lasted well into his marriage. 

Looking back now, she believes Peters had groomed her for years before she turned 18, when she was still his student. 

Although her story never resulted in charges, Elizabeth praised the way she was treated by OPP investigators, who listened carefully and offered her access to a counsellor. 

"They were incredible," she said. "I'm taking baby steps trying to accept it piece by piece."

Peters will remain on the sexual offenders registry for 20 years and has been ordered not to communicate with the two victims or two other individuals. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Ireton

Senior Reporter

Julie Ireton is a senior reporter who works on investigations and enterprise news features at CBC Ottawa. She's also the host of the CBC investigative podcast, The Band Played On found at: cbc.ca/thebandplayedon You can reach her at julie.ireton@cbc.ca

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