Toronto teacher faces 42 charges involving sexual assault, sexual exploitation, assault

Posted: March 29, 2013 by Rizwan Riyad in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,
Grant Bowers, legal counsel for the TDSB (centre) addresses reporters at Toronto District School Board headquarters March 27, 2013 in connection with news of sexual assault charges against a teacher.

Grant Bowers, legal counsel for the TDSB (centre) addresses reporters at Toronto District School Board headquarters March 27, 2013 in connection with news of sexual assault charges against a teacher.

A Scarborough teacher facing sex-related charges was complained about by 30 students at the junior public school he was teaching French at until recently.

The 42 criminal charges — of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and assault — against Christian Kpodjie have shocked his neighbourhood and the Toronto District School Board.

Kpodjie, 53, worked for four schools before being placed at Inglewood Heights Junior Public School in Scarborough, where all of the alleged victims attended. Police charged him Wednesday, saying sexual assaults and comments occurred between last September and this month.

“We feel the pain of the community, as well as the students and staff,” said David Johnston, board senior manager of professional support services.

“It’s disappointing. But I think if there’s any good news for us, it’s that the students are comfortable and trust us and are willing to come forward.”

Kpodjie did not answer the door Thursday at his townhouse near Sheppard Ave. E and Warden Ave., which backs onto a playground. Neighbours said he, his wife and young son moved there in the summer to be closer to the teacher’s new school.

“They’re very nice, quiet, people,” said next-door neighbour Verona McCaughey. “I couldn’t ask for better neighbours.”

Ida Atkins, who interviewed the family before they moved into the co-op as part of a screening process, said Kpodjie seemed family-oriented and neighbourly, recently attending a 100th birthday party for another neighbour.

“They seem like really nice people,” Atkins said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t live here.”

The TDSB’s vetting process includes a criminal-background check for all teachers, including Kpodjie, who is listed in good standing with the Ontario College of Teachers.

He received a teaching certificate in Ghana in 1983, later graduating from University of Cape Coast with a Bachelor of Arts and diploma in education. TDSB lawyer Grant Bowers said the school board would have looked into his past there.

“Obviously international records are not as complete as Canadian records but there are some,” Bowers said.

Kpodjie was hired by the school board in 2007 and was most recently teaching core French to all Inglewood students in Grades 4, 5 and 6. He previously taught at Humberwood Downs Junior Middle Academy, then Derrydown Public School, Chester Le Junior Public School and Gateway Public School.

However, “my understanding is that at the moment, the charges all involved Inglewood, period,” Bowers said, noting letters were going out to parents at the other schools Thursday to tell them about the charges.

The investigation with a complaint to the school, he said, then the case was turned over to police. Const. Tony Vella did not provide the ages of the 30 alleged victims but said they are all “young people.”

A crisis response team is at Inglewood, speaking to students and staff, and a meeting is planned for next week. While the charges work through the court system, Kpodjie is suspended with pay.

“We have to protect the school . . . If there’s any risk at all of having the individual near children, we have to removed that risk,” Bowers said. “That said, we do live in a society that presumes innocence.”


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