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Disgraced Orleans teacher found guilty of sex crimes against students

A former Ottawa high school teacher and basketball coach was found guilty Thursday of multiple sex crimes against young students including sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

Rick Watkins, who was also known as Rick Despatie, was a teacher at St. Matthew High School in Orléans.

Justice Ann Alder found Watkins guilty of four counts of sexual assault, four counts of sexual interference, two counts of criminal harassment and one count of sexual exploitation.

The charges relate to four victims who all testified against Watkins.

Watkins had originally been facing 54 charges but the Crown says it proceeded on 20 charges in total. Watkins was acquitted of 9 offenses. When charges were laid, both the school board and the Ontario College of Teachers had said they were investigating how complaints over the years were handled.

In a statement, the Ottawa Catholic School Board said "Our top priority is always the safety of our students. We stand with those affected by these crimes against children and offer our unwavering support."

It went on to say all board staff completed the "Commit to Kids" program which aims to safeguard children from abuse and that the Ontario College of Teachers has mandated mandatory sexual abuse prevention training for teachers since 2022.

"A key aspect of this policy is the reporting process for concerns related to possible sexual abuse or grooming of children. Previously, reports were only shared with a school staff member. Now, there is a mandatory requirement to report concerns to the superintendent of human resources, who acts as a separate third party to review the report," the board said.

The College has not responded to a request for comment. Top Stories

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