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Ex-teacher guilty of multiple sex offenses gets two years in prison

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Rick Watkins, also known by his former last name, Despatie, leaves the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Center in May 2021. (Archive photo)

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A former math teacher and basketball coach at St. Matthew High School, in Orléans, was found guilty of 11 counts, including sexually assaulting former students and having sexual contact with them.< /p>

Rick Watkins, also known by his former last name, Despatie, will serve a two-year sentence in a federal penitentiary with two years of probation. He was convicted on several counts relating to female victims who were his students at the time.

He is also prohibited from possessing weapons and obtaining employment or volunteer positions where he interacts with people under the age of 16.

In September, Mr. Watkins was convicted of four counts of sexual assault and sexual interference at the following allegations made by four former students.

He was also convicted of two counts of stalking because his actions made some of his victims feel uncomfortable ;#x27;comfortable to the point that they no longer attended her classes.

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The students were all under the age of 16 at the time of the incident. A publication ban prevents Radio-Canada from reporting information that could help identify them.

The judge Ann Alder of the Ontario Court of Justice heard victims describe how they were uncomfortable when Mr. Watkins approached them and touched their shoulders and legs .

The court heard that the touching sometimes occurred in class and sometimes during training sessions. additional help.

Mr. Watkins testified in his defense, but the judge said she found his testimony evasive and condescending.

In her sentencing decision, the judge highlighted several aggravating factors, including the young age of the victims and the fact that Rick Watkins was in a position of trust as a teacher.

In summarizing the statements of two victims, Ms. Alder indicated that one of them had felt deprived of her self-esteem and ability to connect with others, and that she was particularly afraid of being touched. Another victim suffered from depression and anxiety.

When his sentence was read, the former teacher looked straight ahead, only shaking his head when asked asked if he had any questions.

The judge noted that this was the former teacher's first offense and that he had significant support. She also referred to the numerous letters of support submitted to the court, in which Rick Watkins is praised for his contributions to the community through teaching and coaching.

Ms. Alder further raised the abuse that Mr. Watkins suffered during his childhood, noting that it seemed having overcome a difficult start in life.

In a statement released at the time of his sentencing, l&#x27 ;Ottawa Catholic School Board says it has worked with the Canadian Center for Child Protection to provide additional training to all staff since Mr. Watkins. The school board also implemented a new policy in 2022 to prevent and report child sexual abuse.

The board confirmed in 2021 that Mr. Watkins was no longer employed by the school.

The Ontario College of Teachers has also implemented mandatory sexual abuse prevention training for all teachers starting in January 2022.

With information from CBC News.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116