London principal Michael Deeb charged with sex assault involving student

Michael Deeb, right, during a London Police Services Board meeting, Dec. 21, 2017.
Michael Deeb, right, during a London Police Services Board meeting, Dec. 21, 2017. Jake Jeffrey/980 CFPL

London high school principal Michael Deeb has resigned from the London Police Services Board (LPSB) a day after he was charged by the OPP with sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

Deeb’s co-counsel Gord Cudmore confirmed the charges to 980 CFPL ahead of an OPP release sent out late Friday morning.

“The police phoned our client, and we phoned the police to find out what was going on,” said Cudmore. “We were told that he was being charged so he surrendered himself.”

OPP have since confirmed the charges are in relation to a female student in 2000-2001.

Cudmore said Deeb intends to plead not guilty. He’s due in court May 7.

“Do investigators feel there may be possibly other victims in the community? There may be. However, we need those individuals who have the courage to come forward,” said OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk.

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“If they have any information surrounding this investigation or any other incident, they’re being asked to contact Det. Const. Aaron Brown of the Lambton County OPP detachment at 1-888-310-1122.”

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Asked what would happen as a result of the new vacancy, LPSB chair and city councillor, Mo Salih, said it would be up to the province to appoint a replacement.

“We’ve notified [the province] because he’s a provincial appointee,” he said. “There was already going to be a potential vacancy because his term was up in the fall, I believe, so the responsibility falls on the province to appoint a new person.”

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Back in December, London teacher and poet Najwa Zebian brought forward separate allegations of harassment against Deeb in a Facebook post.

At the time of the alleged behaviour, Deeb, who is more than twice her age, was a principal at a local high school and Zebian said she was trying to establish herself as a new teacher in the community.

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He adamantly denied those allegations, but announced he was temporarily stepping down from the police services board after the Ontario Civilian Police Commission announced it would launch an investigation.

Deeb’s lawyer, Faisal Joseph, issued a statement at that time and said an independent investigation by the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) discredited the allegations. However, the investigation and its findings have not been made public.

An official with the Thames Valley District School Board has confirmed to 980 CFPL that Deeb remains on a leave of absence and is not at the school. The spokesperson added that a statement will not be released as this involves “a personnel matter” and “is before the courts.”

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Joseph confirmed to 980 CFPL in early February that Deeb had also stepped down from the boards of the St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and Huron University College.

In March, Zebian was served with a notice of intent to sue for defamation on behalf of Deeb the day before she was scheduled to give the keynote speech at the 18th annual International Women’s Day Breakfast.

The allegations have not been proven in court.