Ottawa

Former Ottawa teacher guilty of more historical sex crimes

A former Ottawa music teacher, Bob Clarke, who taught in Ottawa schools between 1969 and 1992, has now been convicted of abusing a total of ten former students — all men.

Former Bell High School teacher Bob Clarke has now been convicted of abusing 10 former students

Bob Clarke pleaded guilty on Friday March 1, 2019, of two counts of gross indecency against two former students at Bell High School in the 1970s and 80s. (Sir Robert Borden High School yearbooks, 1991)

Warning: The following article contains graphic details some readers may find disturbing.


A former Ottawa music teacher, Bob Clarke, who taught in Ottawa schools between 1969 and 1992, has now been convicted of abusing a total of ten former students.

On Friday, Clarke pleaded guilty to two counts of gross indecency against two of those victims, both men now in their 50s.

The men attended Bell High School in the 1970s and 80s where Clarke was both the music teacher and an award-winning band leader until he transferred to Sir Robert Borden High School in 1986.

The court heard on Friday that one of the victims was forced to perform oral sex on the teacher in the back office of Bell High School's music department in 1979.

The former student also said Clarke constantly used explicit sexual language and made inappropriate advances during class or at band.

'Lots of really bad feelings'

The other victim said he often got rides to school with the music teacher. He told police he was fondled several times in Clarke's car, both on and off school property.

Both men read victim impact statements to the court. Their names are protected by a publication ban.

"This is hard to write about because of all the emotions and memories this evokes — lots of really bad feelings, confusion, self loathing, not just low self esteem either, lower than low... it's somewhere in there right next to your actions, impulses and behaviours," said one victim.

These two victims initially went to police after a CBC investigation was published last year.

CBC stories revealed that several people warned teachers and school authorities about Clarke's inappropriate behaviour over the years, but abuse continued until 1992, when Clarke was forced out of teaching.

Abuse was far reaching, judge says

CBC also found Clarke had been seen by more than a dozen psychiatrists and psychologists over the years, seeking help for his inappropriate behaviour towards male students. Yet all the while, he continued to teach.

On Friday, Ontario Court Justice Marlyse Dumel told Clarke the impact of his abuse is far reaching and will leave these men struggling for the rest of their lives.

To accentuate this point, Dumel read a quote from another case.

"We as a society owe it to our children to protect them from the harm caused by offenders," read the judge. "Throughout their formative years, they are manifestly incapable of defending themselves against predators... and as such they make easy prey."

Other men who were victimized by Clarke along with several supporters were also in the court room for Friday's proceedings.

Former music teacher Bob Clarke will continue to serve his sentence in a federal prison. (Laurie Foster-MacLeod )

In March 2018, Bob Clarke was sentenced to two years in federal prison for crimes against eight other former students.

He will continue to serve out that sentence at the Joyceville federal institution.

Clarke stood in the prisoner's box on Friday, looking thinner and more frail than when he first faced the court for his initial charges last March.

Clarke spoke to the judge on Friday without notes, saying he was ashamed, saddened and heart-broken and hopes the men will find it in their hearts to get over their horrible memories.

"I don't think any words can convey how I feel inside," said Clarke. "I feel so empty. I just grieve over what they told us."

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

With files from Kristin Nelson