An Ottawa teacher has been charged with sexual assault after incidents involving several young students, police say.
Police say the incidents involved young girls under the age of 14, and took place between the fall of 2020 and March of this year. Ottawa police’s sexual assault and child abuse unit began investigating the allegations last month.
Police say the incidents took place while the Ottawa man was acting as a teacher for the Ottawa Catholic School Board.
In a statement, the board said 57-year-old Rick Watkins, also known as Rick Despatie, was suspended March 9 when the allegations came to light.
He has been teaching at St. Matthew High School in Orleans for over 25 years, according to the board.
“The board takes this situation very seriously and has been cooperating with the Ottawa Police during their investigation. The Ontario College of Teachers will also be involved in their own investigation,” the statement said.
Tuesday, Ottawa police charged Watkins with three counts each of sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation of a young person.
Investigators believe there may be more victims, and are asking anyone with information about the case to contact them at 613-236-1222 ext. 5944.
Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or at crimestoppers.ca.