Ottawa

Former music teacher faces new gross indecency charge

A 74-year-old former Ottawa teacher is facing a new charge of gross indecency for allegedly groping a male student in the late 1970s at Bell High School in Nepean.

Bob Clarke currently in prison after he pleaded guilty in March to sexual offences involving 8 former students

Bob Clarke, seen in this picture from a 1970s Bell High School yearbook, is facing a new gross indecency charge after he was convicted in March of sexual offences involving eight former students dating back to the 1970s, '80s and '90s. (Bell High School yearbook)

A 74-year-old former Ottawa teacher is facing a new charge of gross indecency for allegedly groping a male student in the late 1970s at Bell High School.

For decades, Bob Clarke taught music at Bell and Sir Robert Borden High Schools in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

In March, Clarke pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and gross indecency involving eight former students, and is currently serving a two-year sentence in the Joyceville federal institution.

Court heard he inappropriately touched, propositioned or sexually assaulted several teenage boys in the 1970s, '80s and '90s in the classroom, on band trips and outside school.

In a release to the media, the Ottawa Police Service said Clarke will appear in court in connection to the new charge on Oct. 24, 2018.

Peter Hamer is one of eight victims who came forward in 2016 to charge Bob Clarke, a former Bell High School teacher who was convicted of sexual assault in March 2018. (Julie Ireton, CBC)

One of Clarke's victims in the earlier case, Peter Hamer, said he's glad to see another person has come forward. Hamer was the first to lay charges against his former music teacher back in 2016.

"Someone else has found their voice and somebody else has decided that Bob Clarke's secret isn't worth keeping," said Hamer.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board told CBC it "became aware of allegations of sexual assault [involving Clarke] when contacted by police during their investigation" in 2016. 

Clarke resigned from his teaching position with the board in 1992 after complaints about his behaviour, but "before any decision about termination of his employment could be made."

Police are concerned there could still be more victims.

Hamer said it takes a lot of courage to come forward.

"I'm hoping that at some point I can have a conversation with this person and say thank you for doing this because it's not easy," he said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ottawa police sexual assault and child abuse unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5944, or phone Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS) or toll-free at 1-800-222-8477.

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 new CBC investigative podcast, The Band Played On. You can reach her at julie.ireton@cbc.ca