Cornwall Standard Freeholder
30 June 2010
Posted By DAVID NESSETH
The Upper Canada District School Board issued a formal apology Tuesday to sexual abuse victims who had contact with four former employees hired by its predecessor public boards.
At the four-year long Cornwall Public Inquiry, county public school boards were one of several institutions under the microscope. For the board, it was questions about their hiring processes, student supervision, and their protocols for reporting allegations of sexual misconduct related to students.
Those county boards were amalgamated under the Upper Canada District School Board in 1998.
“I can’t imagine what a student goes through when the adult or person they look to, in a system they look to to protect them, cannot do that,” said Greg Pietersma, UCDSB chairperson. “I want to again extend a sincere apology to them.”
The school in question was La Citadelle Catholic Secondary School, operated at the time under UCDSB’s predecessor board called Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry County Board of Education.
It was run at the time on behalf of the French Catholic community, Pietersma said.
Pietersma referenced four former staffers at La Citadelle as the key perpetrators under the former school board structure: Robert Sabourin, Father Gilles Deslauriers, Nelson Barque and Jean-Luc Leblanc.
Sabourin, a retired art and photography teacher, was convicted in 1999 on charges he had sexually abused four boys between the ages of 12 and 14 three decades earlier. At the age of 84, he also pleaded guilty in January to sexually abusing another young student.
Father Gilles Deslaurier was named chaplain at La Citadelle in 1977. Eventually, he was found guilty of multiple charges of sexual abuse against five boys between 1978 and 1984.
Jean-Luc Leblanc provided transportation for public board students. He pleaded guilty to two counts of gross indecency on Nov. 6, 1986.
Nelson Barque worked as a substitute teacher at La Citadelle for less than two months in 1971 before securing full time work as a city case worker. He admitted to sexual contact with three youths, but committed suicide in 1998, the same month he was formally charged.
UCDSB superintendent of education, David Thomas, was asked why the board has waited until now to apologize when the inquiry’s final report was issued in December 2009, and other inquiry players such as the police and the Diocese have already apologized.
“We had seriously and solemnly looked at all our procedures,” Thomas responded.
The word “transparent” was used several times as Thomas and Pietersma explained some of the changes that have been made through the Robbins report in 2000, and following the the report of Cornwall Public Inquiry Commissioner Normand Glaude.
“What the commissioner encouraged us to do is to continue to update all our procedures and policies to recognize that the safety and security of children -you can’t check it off as being done. It’s something that you have to continually have to review and reflect.”
Thomas said that twice per year teachers are reminded about proper reporting procedures for sexual abuse. That, he said, is in addition to child abuse prevention training.
Every single person working or volunteering in a school run by the UCDSB is now subjected to a criminal background check, Thomas noted, which wasn’t the case during the 1980s.
Thomas also said that four times per year students anonymously fill out surveys about school safety.
Pietersma said the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario was invited to be part of a joint apology on Tuesday at the Ramada Inn, but declined.
The Catholic board issued a written apology.
Of the eight parties that made final submissions at the inquiry, only the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the UCDSB chose not to deliver their statements orally.
On Jan. 28, 2009, Thomas testified about recommended practices for identifying and preventing sexual misconduct in Ontario schools.
“We’re not going to stop today,” Pietersma said. “For many of our students, school is the safest place for them to come to, and that is something we’re quite proud of, and we recognize our role in continuing that.”
Pietersma encouraged any additional victims of sexual abuse to come forward and seek help.
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Catholic board opts for letter
CORNWALL — While the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario declined to participate in a sexual abuse victims news conference Tuesday with the Upper Canada District School Board, it issued an open letter yesterday on the subject as a paid notice in the Standard-Freeholder.
As with the public board, student abuses related to the inquiry occurred prior to the creation of the Catholic board in 1998.
The following is an excerpt from the statement signed by William Gartland, the Catholic board’s director of education: “…I want every victim or alleged victim of assault or abuse, whether pyschological, physical or sexual, to know that the board is sorry for the pain that you have suffered. We will continue to respond appropriately to any allegation brought to our attention.”
Article ID# 2648147
School board apologizes for sexual abuse cases
June 30, 2010
The Ottawa Citizen
The Upper Canada District School Board issued an apology Tuesday for decades-old cases sexual abuse at a Cornwall high school, six months after a public inquiry by Justice Normand Glaude asked for it. The $53-million inquiry said police, government, the Catholic Church and other institutions failed miserably to respond to decades of alleged and real child sexual abuse by Cornwall probation officers, clergy, teachers and others. The apology named three teachers who worked at École Secondaire Catholique La Citadelle, which was operated by the former Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry County Board of Education during the 1960s. It also named a school-bus driver who worked for the board.