Parents learn of sex abuse case against teacher 6 months after hearing

CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) [Toronto, Canada]

February 9, 2023

By Giacomo Panico

3rd incident involving sexual abuse allegations at St. John Catholic High School since 2019

Parents of students at a Catholic high school in Perth, Ont., are only now being told about a historic sexual abuse case, nearly half a year after the province’s regulatory body for teachers deemed it credible. 

The Ontario College of Teachers ruled last summer that Edward (Ted) Michael Oliver was guilty of professional misconduct after it investigated allegations that he sexually abused a 17-year-old female student while he was teaching at St. John Catholic High School.

The regulator revoked Oliver’s teaching certificate after verifying complaints through its internal disciplinary process.

A letter sent to parents and guardians from the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) states that “we recently learned of a decision by the Ontario College of Teachers regarding this former teacher.”

The letter is dated Feb. 1, 2023, but the college’s discipline committee reached its decision on July 20, 2022, and posted the decision on its website a month later. It’s unclear when Oliver stopped teaching.

In an email to CBC, the CDSBEO wrote that it learned of the college’s ruling on Jan. 27, 2023, a full six months after the decision was handed down.

Oliver has not been found guilty of any sex-related crime in criminal court. Ontario Provincial Police have yet to respond to CBC’s inquiry into whether any criminal investigations or charges are underway.

CBC has not been able to track down Oliver for comment. The former student’s legal team says it too is trying to reach him for a civil matter.

Explicit conversations

In its decision, the college does not reveal the year in which the misconduct took place, but the school board’s letter to parents confirms Oliver taught at the high school in the mid-2000s.

The victim’s identity is protected by a publication ban, but she was a Grade 12 student at St. John when Oliver worked at the school.

In her testimony, the girl described how she first met Oliver at an after-school event, and that during their first private meeting in the school’s atrium the conversation “turned to the topic of drug use fairly quickly.”

She added that over the next couple of weeks he took an interest in her and they would often talk privately about his past drug use, music and sex, including sexual fantasies.

One day after school, the girl said Oliver drove her to a mall to buy her a CD, then invited her to his apartment where he had sex with her.

According to the former student, the inappropriate contact with Oliver lasted a number of weeks until she started to regret it.

Teacher’s certificate revoked

The discipline committee stated that the former student first approached the college with a complaint against Oliver to “get some closure in her life in 2017, but did not pursue the complaint at that time because she got scared.”

After a couple of years of processing what had happened, she renewed her complaint in 2019 because she wanted Oliver to realize that his actions were harmful, and she couldn’t go on knowing that another student might go through a similar experience.

Oliver did not attend the July 2022 disciplinary hearing nor provide any evidence in his defence, according to the college’s discipline committee.

The college did however rely on its own investigator who verified the student’s account of what happened, and concluded that ther testimony was credible and reliable.

The committee concluded that Oliver was guilty of both professional misconduct and sexual abuse of a student, that his actions toward the student were “reprehensible,” and that he “abused his position of trust and authority in the most egregious manner by exploiting the student’s interest in him and her vulnerabilities.”

Citing the great psychological and emotional harm to the victim, as well as how his actions have jeopardized the public’s trust in teachers, the college ruled to revoke Oliver’s teaching certificate immediately and ordered him to pay the costs of the proceedings, which amounted to $10,000.

Victim suing school board, teacher

Erika Tower, a lawyer with Lerners in Toronto, told CBC the former student has retained her law firm in a civil case against both the CDSBEO and Ted Oliver, seeking damages for the sexual abuse findings detailed in the college’s decision.

“It’s impacted her relationships, the way she views the world, the way she views relationships between children and authority figures with suspicion,” Tower said.

“As much as it’s important to come forward, it’s very triggering and difficult seeing these things in the media and having it all come out. But she’s really motivated and driven by a sense of social responsibility and trying to protect others from potentially enduring the same thing she has.”

None of the claims has been proven in court.

3rd case at same school

News of this historic incident comes as the school community at St. John is still grappling with two prior cases involving charges of sexual abuse by teachers.

In December, former teacher David Alexander Giroux was charged with six counts of sexual interference involving a person under 16.

In April 2021, teacher Jeff Peters pleaded guilty to charges of sex crimes against two former students who attended the Perth high school between 2013 and 2016, though CBC has learned that allegations against him date back to 2005.

In its February 2023 letter to parents, the CDSBEO signals that it has informed police of Oliver’s sexual abuse case, and offers students support from school counsellors.

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually abused. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.