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Passing the trash

December 4, 2017

One of the most shocking press conferences I’ve attended was 17 years ago, at Queen’s Park, when Justice Sidney Robins released his searing report on sexual abuse in our school system.

It was alarming in how devastating the revelations were and how little reporting or follow-up the stories received. That was back in 2000. Now, almost 18 years later, it seems Robins’ report and its recommendations have been forgotten. Here’s a reminder of the heart-breaking details of that report.

While Robins probed sexual abuse by a number of teachers, he focused mainly on separate school teacher Kenneth DeLuca, who over 24 years taught in five Sault area schools.

Robins noted in his report: “For the most part, when he was transferred to a new school, no inquiries were made of his former school in order to obtain any background on him, even when the new principal admittedly heard about problems DeLuca had had at his former school.”

So kids continued to be victimized by a system that allowed a predator to continue his evil acts.

On one occasion DeLuca announced to his class that they were going to have a quiz. Then he went to the back of the class and told students if they turned around, he’d fail them. He then sat down next to a Grade 7 student at the back of the class, took his penis from his pants, removed the pen from her hand and placed her hand on his penis. Although she was unable to write, DeLuca gave the girl a perfect score on the test.

In other cases, DeLuca kissed, fondled and grabbed young students.

In 1994, DeLuca was charged with 41 offences, involving 21 victims — all but one former students — aged 10-18.

He eventually pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, 14 offences: Six counts of indecent assault, seven counts of sexual assault, and one count of counselling a young person to touch for a sexual purpose.

The Robins report prompted Mike Harris to institute the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) with the aim of providing some kind of central registry and complaints procedure with teeth that would report and track perverts who prey on kids. You’d think that would end such abuse. Clearly from the reports in the Toronto Star, Dec. 4, they haven’t . We have learned nothing. We leave our children vulnerable to these horrific acts by the people they trust the most, after their parents: their teachers.

What’s it going to take?

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