A 31-year-old teacher with the Elk Island Public School Division has been charged with sexual offences in relation to a female student, Strathcona County RCMP said in a media release Thursday afternoon.
The charges come after the RCMP received a complaint on July 5, 2017. Officers said it is alleged the offences took place between May 1, 2015 and Sept. 1, 2015.
According to court documents, Graeme Patrick Forsyth has been charged with two counts each of sexual contact with a person under the age of 16, sexual counsel of a person under the age of 16, sexual exploitation and sexual assault.
Forsyth was a teacher at Bev Facey Community High School. In an email sent to students and parents, Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) said “we felt it was important to contact you and let you know what has transpired.”
“News of these allegations may have an emotional impact on our students,” read the letter signed by EIPS superintendent Mark Liguori. The letter went on to direct parents and students to the school’s human resources managing director.
Cst. Chantelle Kelly with Strathcona County RCMP said “at this point we only have reason to believe that there is one victim.”
“But we are encouraging anyone with information to please come forward to the Strathcona County RCMP detachment or their local police department.”
In a statement issued Thursday, Elk Island Public Schools said it was recently made aware of the allegations made against one of its teachers and that administration conducted an investigation into the allegations.
“As a result of this investigation, and in the interests of ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, steps were taken to ensure that the teacher was no longer in a position to interact with EIPS students.”
A spokesperson for Elk Island Public Schools said Forsyth has been suspended with pay.
According to the Alberta School Act, a teacher who is suspended “shall be paid the teacher’s salary until the teacher’s contract of employment is terminated in accordance with this act.”
The act also states a suspended teacher cannot be employed by another school board while the suspension is in effect.
Kelly said the charges are shocking.
“The teacher is in a position of authority and are there to assist and to educate students. This is not something we like to see and it is alarming,” she said.
Forsyth was released on several conditions. He is scheduled to appear in court in Sherwood Park on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
RCMP said the female student and her family are being offered support from the Strathcona County Victim Services Unit.
–with files from Julia Wong