Longtime Ottawa Catholic school teacher accused of sexual assault facing 45 new charges

CTV Television Network [Toronto, Canada]

May 26, 2021

By Ted Raymond

Ottawa police have laid dozens of new charges against a longtime Ottawa Catholic School Board teacher who was recently accused of sexual assault.

Rick Watkins, a.k.a. Rick Despatie, was charged with three counts each of sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation of a young person on April 20. Investigators said they were concerned there may have been additional victims and asked for more information.

Watkins, 57, was a teacher at St. Matthew High School for more than 25 years, the OCSB told CTV News Ottawa. He was suspended March 9, when the allegations first came forward.

On Wednesday, Ottawa police said other alleged incidents involving 14 youth under the age of 14 were reported to police since charges were first announced. Police say these alleged incidents happened while Watkins was employed as a teacher with the OCSB between 2004 and 2021.

He is now facing 45 additional charges, including 13 counts of sexual assault, 13 counts of sexual interference, 11 counts of criminal harassment, six counts of voyeurism, one count of assault and one count of assault with a weapon.

He is now facing a total of 54 charges in connection with 16 alleged victims under 14 years old.

None of the charges have been tested in court.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the OCSB said Watkins was no longer employed by the school board.

“The Ottawa Catholic School Board has been cooperating fully with the Ottawa Police Service since the start of this investigation. We will continue to provide support to staff and students. The Board can confirm that the individual is no longer an employee of the Board,” the statement said.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board has launched a review into how it handled previous allegations brought forward against the teacher.

Director of Education Tom D’Amico said in a letter to families that the third-party College of Teachers would also look at all the information related to the allegations and any previous complaints. These reviews are separate from the criminal investigation.

“On behalf of the Ottawa Catholic School Board, I apologize to any former students who have experienced harm by someone in a position of trust,” said D’Amico.

Ottawa police say investigators continue to seek any possible additional victims in this case and are urging anyone with information to call the Ottawa Police Service Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit at 613-236-1222, extension 5944 or submit their tips anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or online at crimestoppers.ca.